SYRACUSE, New York (May 3, 2012) – Rural/Metro Medical Services, Crouse Hospital and the Central New York Emergency Medical Services Program are pleased to announce preliminary results and publication of a major collaborative research project to improve early detection and treatment of patients who suffer the most serious form of heart attack, ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI).
Through a data-driven research model, the team reviewed factors involved in the diagnosis and treatment of heart attack patients through the entire patient experience, from inception of emergency care and beyond. Ultimately, the results will impact local, state and national protocols that indicate when certain types of diagnostic tests should be used.
“Rural/Metro is very proud to play a prominent role in this important research study for cardiac care,” said Michael P. DiMino, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our organization is committed to providing exceptional prehospital care and to advancing clinical excellence at every opportunity. We commend the members of our team in Central New York for their dedication to this project.”
Each year, thousands of people suffer heart attacks, with the most commonly reported symptom being chest pain. As such, current EMS protocols use that symptom as an indication to obtain a 12-lead diagnostic electrocardiogram (EKG) in the ambulance, prior to hospital arrival. In Central New York, Rural/Metro participates in the LifeNet program, which transmits these important tests to the hospital electronically from the ambulance. In 2011, Rural/Metro transmitted more than 10,000 EKGs to area hospitals through LifeNet. This action provides a basis for collaborative care between the hospital and paramedics prior to patient arrival at the Emergency Room.
Research has shown, however, that only 67% of patients experiencing a heart attack actually complain of chest pain. This means that nearly one third of those who suffer heart attacks may not complain of chest pain. Other symptoms can include shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, heartburn, dizziness or pain in other areas of the body.
The research analyzed relationships between patient symptoms, how the patient got to the hospital (ambulance or otherwise), as well as the timing of the first EKG. Results were statistically significant, and showed that limiting prehospital EKG testing only to patients who complain of chest pain can significantly delay diagnosis and negatively impact treatment time.
“Not everyone having a heart attack has chest pain,” said Troy Hogue, Rural/Metro’s Syracuse Area Manager and one of the lead researchers on the project. “As medical providers, we know that there can be a variety of ways a heart attack can present itself. The goal here was to identify ways to incorporate those other signs and symptoms into guidelines that can ensure the most appropriate use of an EKG in the field as a diagnostic tool.”
The multi-phase project was largely driven by quantitative statistical data from Crouse Hospital and Rural/Metro, which was, in turn, analyzed in a collaborative approach covering both emergency medical services and inpatient hospital care. The results validated the hypothesis that the selection criteria for EKG testing needs to be broadened.
“This type of collaboration between emergency medical services, the hospital, and governing agencies is the partnership of the future,” said Dr. Michael Jorolemon, DO, Senior Quality Officer, Crouse Hospital. “Focusing on doing the right thing for the patient in the field and streamlining the transition of care is really putting the patient first. Further, it strengthens the relationship between the different partners involved in patient care. It’s truly a win-win-win for the patient, EMS, and the hospital.”