Chest Pain Center wins national distinction for heart-saving protocol

When a patient comes to TMC with chest pain, a protocol goes into effect that ensures they reach the right physicians within precious minutes. It’s a heart-preserving, life-saving process, and a major reason TMC was named to the Thomson Reuters list of the nation’s top 50 cardiovascular hospitals for 2011.

“Patients presenting with chest pain will be assessed quickly for their immediate needs,” said Dr. Mark Goldberg, medical director of TMC’s Chest Pain Center, which was accredited in 2010 by the Society of Chest Pain Centers. “If the problem is acute, reaction time is rapid.”

The accreditation itself, which was essential to the Top 50 ranking by Thomson Reuters, proves TMC’s devotion to advancing patient care, especially in cardiac services. Heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States. Chest pain can be enigmatic, but when it’s life-threatening, physicians know that time means both muscle tissue and life. In fact, the average time it takes a chest pain patient from entering the door to entering angioplasty at TMC is an impressive 65 minutes. The standard of care is 90 minutes.

“We work closely with EMS and are in communication when there is a 911 call for chest pain,” says Julie Ward, R.N., TMC’s chest pain center coordinator. “Some ambulance units are now able to fax EKGs here so we can activate the team prior to the patient’s arrival at the hospital to save even more time.”

For TMC, winning the accreditation for its chest pain center took synchronized work by cardiologists, nurses, pharmacists and hospital administrators. “Deciding to accredit the hospital as a Chest Pain Center meant that TMC, at all levels, was willing to put in the effort to improve systems vital for patient care,” says Goldberg.

Ward likens TMC’s goal for such an impenetrable system to that of the airline industry. “Airlines have taken the ambiguity out of their practices,” she says. “Everyone does the same thing, the same way, every time. And by doing this, they have made flying safer for thousands of people. We want to focus on that with heart care.”

Goldberg heralds the importance of a standard process. “Quality of care and outcomes improve anytime a hospital standardizes by implementing systems,” he says. “The prevalence of coronary disease makes it all the more important that diagnosis and treatment proceed in an accurate and timely fashion.”

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