County Considers Cardiac Treatment System
A system for providing care to heart attack patients at designated hospitals in San Diego County could be in place this summer, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The system, which would be similar to the county-wide trauma system, would lead to better survival rates for 350 to 500 patients annually, according to Bruce Haynes, interim medical director for the county Emergency Medical Services Agency.
Hospitals in the system would have to report how long it takes for a patient to undergo catheterization after arriving at emergency departments. Experts say hospitals should have a goal of 90 minutes, but many hospitals do not meet Medicare's goal of 120 minutes for most patients.
In addition, the plan sets volume standards for hospitals and cardiologists "significantly below" benchmarks jointly developed by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. The recommendations include the number of angioplasties, stent procedures and percutaneous coronary interventions that should be performed annually and recommend that hospitals have 24-hour surgical access in case of complications.
San Diego County's plan does not require hospitals to have surgical back up, the Union-Tribune reports. County EMSA would oversee the system.
According to the Union-Tribune, the relaxed guidelines appear "to guard the financial health of smaller hospitals that don't want to lose their revenue from heart care."
County officials would have to approve the system before it could be implemented (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/7).