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ECG Paramedic Instruction Saves Lives

26 August, 2012 | Cardiology Equipment, Emergency Equipment, intensive care, medical equipment, Pacemakers

Paramedics and Patient

In cases of severe heart attack such as STEMI (ST- segment elevation myocardial infarction), delay in restoring blood flow directly impacts the patient’s medical outcome. An audit in 2005 conducted by Canadian hospitals in the province of Manitoba, reviewed ambulatory procedures for cardiac patients. The audit revealed that only 14% of patients received blood clot dissolving medication within 30 minutes of their first contact with paramedic staff and merely 11% received primary percutaneous coronary intervention within 90 minutes. These delays are dangerously high for time sensitive, emergency cardiac situations such as the ones that were reviewed.

In an effort to turn the situation around, a study led by Robin A. Ducas, MD, of the University of Manitoba found that empowering paramedics in mobile ECG use and increasing their knowledge base regarding the diagnosis of STEMI significantly reduced patient morbidity and mortality as published in the July/August 2012 issue of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

AS part of the study, onsite Paramedics used ECG on patients with chest pain looking for cases of STEMI. Coordinating remotely with physicians through wireless device transmission for accurate diagnosis allowed paramedics to determine and immediately administer the appropriate medical treatment to restore the patient’s blood flow. Further, upon arrival to hospitals, cases of STEMI were brought directly to the Cardiology Department instead of the EU, where all emergency patients were previously taken to first receive diagnosis and initial treatment.

This seemingly minor change in protocol is a nice example showing how delegating medical duties in combination with effective use of mobile cardiology equipment makes significant improvements in patient care and the use of hospital resources. Speedy diagnosis allows for immediate emergency care, easing congestion in the EU and meaningfully reducing delays in the treatment of conditions where time is critical.

The study concluded that training Paramedics to use and interpret ECG saves lives. It demonstrates that sharing diagnostic duties with the immediate emergency medical staff on site reaps positive benefits across the board and warrants possible expansion to include training in other time sensitive emergency conditions.