Pan Langseth was enjoying a night with her family when she suddenly felt very ill. Rushed to Tucson Medical Center, it took only minutes before she made it to the team that would save her life.
“We were celebrating birthdays and I suddenly felt like I was going to faint,” she recalls, “The next thing I knew I woke up in TMC.” Langseth had complete blockage in four arteries, but thanks to TMC’s rapid “door-to-balloon” time, she bypassed a wait at the emergency department and was promptly wheeled into the Catheterization Lab Suite.
“She presented with probably the worst initial clinical situation of cardiogenic shock and respiratory failure,” recalls cardiologist Dr. Marius Wagner. Given her unstable condition and realizing the need for quick intervention, the ED physician alerted the Cardiac Team, which was ready and in place. Within 30 minutes of her arrival, her artery was opened and the balloon pump in place to support her heart.
“She was discharged four days later!” Wagner says. “Just 10 years ago, a similar condition had a 95 percent mortality rate within the first day. Those who survived the initial hospitalization died of heart failure within the next six months.” Langseth has recovered and is back to playing golf with her friends and enjoying life.
The door-to-balloon time, a core indicator of a hospital’s quality of care, is measured from the moment a chest-pain patient comes through the hospital door to when they undergo angioplasty. TMC’s average is 65 minutes, compared with a national standard of no more than 90 minutes. Physicians know, when it comes to the heart, any delays in treatment increase the likelihood of damaged heart muscle. This is particularly important in patients who have suffered heart attacks – the first three to four hours are critical to heart salvage.
TMC’s Catheterization Lab Suite, or “Cath Lab,” is a sophisticated technical area equipped to perform total assessments of heart function, including evaluation of coronary artery disease, and electrophysiology procedures. It is expertly staffed by a team of cardiologists, registered nurses and technologists 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“I have worked at TMC since 1983,” says Wagner. “The Cath Lab is the finest one in the city. I, for one, bring most of my patients here.”
TMC has fostered a collaborative process among TMC cardiologists, heart surgeons and nurses – all working together to solve problems, improve quality outcomes and lower costs. “It is a unique environment. I think the collaboration encourages not only competition, which is very healthy, but also cooperation and learning from each other.”