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Does Your Hospital Take Too Long To Transfer A Patient Having A Heart Attack?

by The Beasley Firm  |  February 29, 2012  |  

Current research shows that about only one in ten patients having a heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI) are transferred to a heart hospital within the recommended 30 minutes.

Many local hospitals or smaller community hospitals are not equipped to administered clot busting medications or perform cardiac catheterizations, or bypass surgery so any patient that presents to those hospitals having a major coronary event needs to be transferred to a hospital that can perform the emergency heart procedures. To date, approximately three-quarters of the United States (US) hospitals can not perform emergency cardiac procedures.

Every second counts when someone is having a heart attack. When a patient is having a heart attack, it means that the heart muscle is not receiving the blood or oxygen it needs to survive. The more time that passes before a heart attack is treated, the more damage is done to the heart muscle. Any delay in getting a heart patient treatment can lead to severe permanent heart damage, cardiac arrest or wrongful death.

According to Dr. Tracy Wang, a cardiologist at Duke University, “patients who leave the hospital in less than 30 minutes have a much lower mortality”. Dr. Wang evaluated data on approximately 15,000 transfer patients from 298 different hospitals. The patients evaluated had suffered from a type of heart attack called a STEMI or ST-elevation myocardial infarction. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), approximately 250,000 patients suffer from STEMI’s each year.

The best treatment for a patient who is having a ST-elevated MI is a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), where the doctors clear out blocked heart arteries and place a stent to keep the artery open. The quicker this is done, the higher the success rate with less permanent heart damage. Ideally, PCI should be performed within 90 minutes after a patient’s arrival to the hospital with heart attack symptoms. Unfortunately, research shows that on average it took 68 minutes to make a decision to transfer a patient that was having a heart attack and more than a third of the patients spent over 90 minutes at the first hospital before they were transferred.

Any delay in diagnosing or treating a heart attack can lead to significant heart muscle damage or a cardiac related death. Triage nurses, phone triage nurses, emergency room doctors, emergency response teams and family physicians need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack so that an MI patient can get the care they need right away. Here at the Beasley emergency room negligence law firm, we have on staff lawyers, doctors and certified emergency room nurses who have actually treated patients who were having a heart attack. Our specialized ER team has reviewed thousands of patient charts where there was a failure to diagnose or treat a heart attack. If you or a loved one has suffered due to a delay in treating a heart attack or MI, please feel free to call one of our experienced attorneys, physicians, or nurses for a strictly confidential and free consultation. To date, we have had over $2 billion awarded on behalf of our injured clients.

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