Having a Heart Attack? Don’t Drive Yourself, Hotel Dieu Says Call an Ambulance
Saturday March 3rd, 2012
Posted at 10:30am
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Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital reports that at least a quarter of Windsor-Essex patients who required emergency cardiac angioplasty procedures last year were “walk-ins” to hospital and may have put their lives at risk by not calling 911.
“Percutaneous coronary intervention”, otherwise known as PCI’s is an emergency angioplasty procedure whereby a catheter containing a small balloon is inserted into arteries around the heart to compress blockages and restore blood flow. From its “go live” start in January 2011 through to the end of December, HDGH performed emergency cardiac angioplasty procedures on 57 patients. The average time from a patient’s arrival at HDGH to “balloon time” on a cardiac catherization table was 76 minutes – well within a pre-established 90 – minute target.
The median time was 52 minutes and the fastest time was 22 minutes, according to PCI data for the 2011 calendar year.
“The results show the PCI program is saving lives and providing improved care for our community,” said Lora Piccinin, manager of the HDGH Cardiac Cath Lab. “We are also proud of our partnership with Essex-Windsor EMS paramedics, who recognize which patients require this procedure before they even arrive at the hospital.”
The Hospital says that the average times would be shortened if patients called 911 if they feel they are suffering a heart attack, rather than travelling to hospital on their own. Some 14 of the 57 patients who underwent the procedure last year – nearly 25 per cent – did not contact EMS before arriving in hospital.
According to a local primary PCI Working Group, which includes representation by all three area hospitals and Essex-Windsor EMS, it takes an average 25 minutes longer for patients to get on a cath lab table if they arrive at hospital by themselves, rather than by ambulance. Without the help of paramedics, patients can put their safety at risk and also lose critical treatment and potential diagnosis before arriving in a hospital. Paramedics are trained to provide rapid assessments, including an immediate ECG (electrocardiograph), to diagnose whether an emergency angioplasty is required.
“We cannot stress enough the importance of calling 911 immediately if an individual is suffering chest pains,” said Dr. Paul Bradford, an HDGH emergency room physician and base hospital medical director. Bradford notes that paramedics provide safe transport for patients and can immediately provide oxygen, medication and other symptom relief methods en route to hospital.
Randy Mellow, Chief of Essex-Windsor Emergency Medical Services is proud of the participation of EMS first responders in the program and reminds residents to err on the side of caution if they suspect they are having a medical emergency.
“Essex Windsor EMS also is very pleased with the continued collaboration with HDGH and the PCI team however we too are concerned by the number of potential patients choosing not to call 911. We have a very talented team of highly trained paramedics and sophisticated diagnostic equipment that can contribute to expedient diagnosis and treatment and we are concerned when those are not utilized.”
Not every case involving a cardiac concern requires this emergency procedure – of an estimated
10,000 patients who suffer chest pains locally each year, only about 250 would be candidates for a
primary PCI. All local hospitals are equipped to provide critical cardiac services, and none have the
capacity to treat every cardiac case. However, the primary PCI Working Group last year agreed to a
new protocol whereby patients determined by paramedics to be strong candidates for a primary PCI
are transported directly to HDGH.
The program at HDGH continues to operate on a weekday schedule from early morning until early
The HDGH Foundation continues to collect community funds to support a hospital expansion
that would include a second cath lab and eventually allow HDGH to provide 24-7 capacity for primary
PCI. Upcoming fundraising events include a Fashion Show at the Windsor Club (100 Ouellette Ave.) at
6 pm on Thursday, April 19th. Tickets are $55 and can be purchased by calling the HDGH Foundation at
(519) 973-4411 ext. 3853.