Tackling chest pain care variation in the emergency room by using the HEART score
Emergency physicians across the country struggle to get comfortable sending low-risk chest pain patients home without a stress test, cardiologist consult and, in some cases, inpatient admission. Missed heart attacks are associated with a significant number of deaths and are common grounds for legal action, so ED physicians understandably maintain a high level of suspicion of heart attack or unstable angina.
When MemorialCare administrative and physician leadership attended an Advisory Board national research meeting and learned about the HEART score, they recognized an opportunity to employ an evidence-based protocol to improve care choices and resource utilization for chest pain patients in the emergency department.
MemorialCare’s cardiovascular leaders took the HEART score concept back to its Los Angeles County hospital, Long Beach Medical Center, conducted additional due diligence, and implemented the pathway in the emergency room. Within six months, they saw a significant improvement in quality outcomes, resource utilization and patient experience for those patients who received the HEART score.