Each year, emergency departments see an estimated six million people who come in with chest pain. At St. Anthony's, a seamless fast track system immediately identifies patients undergoing an active heart emergency. For patients with blocked arteries, St. Anthony's team of cardiac specialists moves fast. Where the national standard to clear a blockage is 90 minutes or less, St. Anthony's team, available 24/7, has cleared them in as little as 12 minutes.
In a cardiac emergency, St. Anthony's uses two web-based programs that transmit electrocardiograms directly from an ambulance to the Emergency Department physicians for quick detection of heart attacks. This allows the emergency team to better prepare for the patient and contact the cardiac cath lab team before the patient even arrives, and in some cases, patients may skip the emergency department and make it from home to our catheterization lab for treatment in less than an hour.
In keeping with the fast track process, there is no “waiting room” — patients are immediately moved into a private room for additional laboratory tests and continuous EKG monitoring. Depending upon a patient's condition, we also can arrange for a heart stress test that day. Some patients could be headed home in as little as four hours, versus a traditional overnight stay in the hospital.
The American Heart Association endorses the use of rapid treatment outpatient units, stating the “approach has been found to be safe, accurate, and cost-effective in low-risk patients presenting with chest pain.”