Thursday, August 23, 2012

Providence Medical Center receives chest pain center accreditation

This past year, more than 800 individuals experiencing heart attacks came to Providence Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan., for help. Nearly half of those were having a life-threatening type of heart attack called an ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI).

Thanks to rigorous preparation, the hospital was ready to take care of those patients. Providence recently received full Cycle II accreditation with Primary Coronary Intervention (PCI) from the Accreditation Review Committee of the Society of Chest Pain Centers.

This is the gold standard for Chest Pain Center accreditation. It ensures patients that Providence measures up to nationally recognized standards for quality patient care. The hospital first received accreditation in 2006.

The Society’s standards are focused on the patient and doing whatever is necessary to prevent damage to heart muscle.

“Achieving Chest Pain Center accreditation is a team effort,” says Phillip Regas, M.S., C.F.A.A.M.A., executive director of the Providence cardiac service line. “It begins in the field with our emergency medical providers in Kansas City, Leavenworth, Bonner Springs and surrounding communities. Twelve-lead recognition software and hardware ensures that EMS providers can determine if a patient is having a heart attack. If so, they can communicate that information to us while they are en route to Providence.”

A patient who arrives at the hospital experiencing a heart attack can be taken directly to the hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab. There, a procedure to open the blocked artery can be underway within the hour.

“For these patients, our door-to-balloon time averages less than 60 minutes,” Regas says. “Getting these patients help immediately is important because time is heart muscle, and in some cases can be the difference between life and death. Treatment also is most effective when administered early during a coronary event.”

To further expedite treatment, a designated physician cares for chest pain patients. The hospital also drills and practices its Chest Pain Center protocols frequently.

“We look at each patient case as an opportunity to learn and improve our processes, from EMS in the field, to our cath lab. Our goal is to provide our patients with the best experiences and outcomes possible.”

The Society also recognized Providence for a unique best practice involving the hospital’s inpatients and the Rapid Response Team. 

“If a patient hospitalized at Providence is having a STEMI heart attack, the critical care nurse with the Rapid Response Team can activate a Code STEMI so that we get the patient to the Cath Lab immediately,” Regas says. “Not many hospitals are doing this.”               

Key areas in which Providence demonstrated expertise during the accreditation process include:
  • Integrating the emergency department with the local emergency medical system.
  • Assessing, diagnosing and treating patients quickly.
  • Effectively treating patients with low risk for acute coronary syndrome and no assignable cause for their symptoms.
  • Continually seeking to improve processes and procedures.
  • Ensuring Chest Pain Center personnel competency and training.
  • Maintaining organizational structure and commitment.
  • Having a functional design that promotes optimal patient care.
  • Supporting community outreach programs that educate the public to promptly seek medical care if they display symptoms of a possible heart attack.
According to the Society, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Each year, approximately 1.2 million Americans suffer a heart attack, and nearly one-third of these individuals die, many before they reach the hospital. People often dismiss heart attack warning signs, such as chest pain, and think they merely have heartburn or a pulled muscle.

“Unfortunately, many people wait too long before getting help,” Regas says. “The average patient arrives in the Emergency Room two hours after the onset of symptoms.  We want you to recognize the early symptoms of a heart attack and get here as soon as possible. Anyone experiencing chest pain should insist on being taken to the closest accredited Chest Pain Center for treatment.”

Frequent signs of a heart attack are the following:
  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest. The discomfort lasts for more than a few minutes or it may go away and come back. The discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. This may include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath may occur with or before chest discomfort.
  • Other symptoms may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness. Treatments are most effective when they occur in the early stages of chest pain.
For more information about Providence’s Cardiology Services, visit