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Crit Pathw Cardiol


OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the project was to study the impact that immediate physician electrocardiogram (ECG) interpretation would have on door-to-balloon times in ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) as compared with computer-interpreted ECGs.

METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of 340 consecutive patients from September 2003 to December 2009 with STEMI who underwent emergent cardiac catheterization and percutaneous coronary intervention. Patients were stratified into 2 groups based on the computer-interpreted ECG interpretation: those with acute myocardial infarction identified by the computer interpretation and those not identified as acute myocardial infarction. Patients (n = 173) from September 2003 to June 2006 had their initial ECG reviewed by the triage nurse, while patients from July 2006 to December 2009 (n = 167) had their ECG reviewed by the emergency department physician within 10 minutes. Times for catheterization laboratory activation and percutaneous coronary intervention were recorded in all patients.

RESULTS: Of the 340 patients with confirmed STEMI, 102 (30%) patients were not identified by computer interpretation. Comparing the prior protocol of computer ECG to physician interpretation, the latter resulted in significant improvements in median catheterization laboratory activation time {19 minutes [interquartile range (IQR): 10-37] vs. 16 minutes [IQR: 8-29]; P < 0.029} and in median door-to-balloon time [113 minutes (IQR: 86-143) vs. 85 minutes (IQR: 62-106); P < 0.001].

CONCLUSION: The computer-interpreted ECG failed to identify a significant number of patients with STEMI. The immediate review of ECGs by an emergency physician led to faster activation of the catheterization laboratory, and door-to-balloon times in patients with STEMI.

Medical Subject Headings

Aged; Cohort Studies; Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted; Diagnostic Errors; Electrocardiography; Emergency Medicine; Emergency Service, Hospital; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Myocardial Infarction; Nurses; Percutaneous Coronary Intervention; Physicians; Retrospective Studies; Time-to-Treatment; Triage

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