Is this person with chest pain having a heart attack? That's a question EMTs frequently confront when responding to 911 calls.
A study conducted at Wake Forest Baptist Health shows that on-scene use of a new protocol and advanced diagnostic equipment can help paramedics better identify patients at high risk for adverse cardiac events. This approach could help paramedics determine the hospital best equipped to treat those people. Currently, pre-hospital assessment of patients with chest pain focuses on looking for signs of a heart attack with a portable electrocardiogram (EKG). For the 93% of people who aren't having a discernible heart attack, paramedics rely on their experience and patient preference to decide what hospital to go to rather than on an objective risk assessment of the level of cardiac care needed, Stopyra said.