Only one in 10 patients who experience a major heart attack are transferred to another hospital to get necessary treatment within the recommended 30 minutes, according to research at the Duke Clinical Research Institute.
Failure to transfer these patients to a hospital that could clear their heart blockage in time increases their death rate, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by the researchers. The study is the first to show a significantly higher mortality risk associated with the time patients spend in a hospital before they are transferred to another hospital able to perform a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) to open blocked coronary arteries. PCI is the preferred treatment for many heart attack patients, yet approximately 75 percent of hospitals in the U.S. currently do not have around-the-clock PCI capability.
Researchers found that while there has been an improvement in "door-in-door-out" time, only 11 percent of patients left the referral hospital within the recommended 30 minutes. More than one-third of patients waited more than 90 minutes.
Researchers also observed a 5.5 percent mortality rate among transferred heart attack patients overall. Mortality was significantly higher among patients with "door-in-door-out" times that exceeded 30 minutes at 5.9 percent. Patients who waited less than 30 minutes experienced a 2.7 percent mortality rate.
Source: Duke Medicine, July 21, 2011
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