Monday, November 27, 2006

Kaiser Permanente: Hospitals Called to Improve Treatment for Heart Attacks

Denver, Colorado
November 13, 2006

Hospitals Called to Improve Treatment After Heart Attack

Kaiser Permanente Emergency Room Physician Among Researchers Pushing for Set of Strategies That Saves Lives


Prompt treatment saves lives when patients arrive at hospitals having heart attacks. A new study has identified simple steps that hospitals can take to speed life-saving treatment. The research, which was led by Elizabeth Bradley and a team of researchers that included David Magid, MD, MPH, emergency medicine physician and researcher, was announced today by the New England Journal of Medicine at the American Heart Association’s annual conference.


It outlines simple hospital strategies that work when patients arrive at the emergency department needing percutaneous coronary intervention or balloon therapy. The team is challenging hospitals to improve what has been dubbed “door-to-balloon” times.


Those strategies include:


Having emergency medicine physicians activate the catheterization lab (cath lab), the hospital room where the balloon treatment is performed.

Activating the cath lab with one-call central page operators who can mobilize the entire medical team at once.

Activating based on pre-hospital electrocardiograms while the patient is still en route to the hospital as opposed to waiting until the patient arrives.

Having interventional cardiologists on location within 20 – 30 minutes.

Using real-time data feedback with emergency department and cath lab staff.


The study of 365 hospitals found that only a handful of hospitals use some of the strategies and none uses all. Researchers say implementing this simple set of effective and feasible strategies holds promise for substantially improving patient care.


Balloon therapy has become the preferred approach to treating certain kinds of heart attacks. While, hospitals have been seeking ways to improve their door-to balloon times, overall performance at most hospitals lags behind the national standard of 90 minutes or less. Dr. Magid practices at Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital and as part of this study partnered with the hospital to adopt the life-saving strategies.


Saint Joseph Hospital is one of the first hospitals in the country to make these important improvements. “The great point about these strategies is that most involve little or no cost to implement,” said Magid.


“The study offers a terrific guide for hospitals to follow as they push to improve door-to-balloon times and the quality of care for patients.”


This study is part of the Health Care Quality Improvement Project initiated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which has encouraged identification of quality improvement projects to improve patient safety.


It also is one of more than 100 research projects conducted every year by the Kaiser Permanente Colorado researchers.


Kaiser Permanente is the largest private health care provider in Colorado. More than 475,000 members in the Denver/Boulder and Colorado Springs areas have access to Kaiser Permanente through an expanded suite of health care products.


Kaiser Permanente physicians and care teams focus on prevention as well as curing disease, all in an effort to help patients live well and thrive.