Tappahannock, VA – Riverside Tappahannock Hospital Emergency Department personnel recently completed a successful test of their refined treatment processes for patients presenting with a specific type of heart attack, known as STEMI. The test, a real-time, mock case exercise, was an effort toward continually improving the quality of care and the protocols that support improved patient outcomes.

“It is our desire and responsibility to review our procedures and protocols to ensure patients receive the highest quality care. Testing our protocols in this manner ensures that is in fact the case, which in turn supports our ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes,” stated Wanda Miller, Director of Nursing and Patient Care Services.

The test was performed as a coordinated effort between RTH, LiveEvac 3, local EMS responders and Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, with the goal of having the patient arrive in a cardiac cath-lab within 90 minutes. Time is of the essence when dealing with heart attacks, especially STEMI’s. Often, a specialized surgical procedure is necessary for patients suffering this type of heart attack, thus the need for transferring a patient to another hospital. Riverside Tappahannock’s objective is to have patients requiring this procedure leave for transport to a tertiary hospital within 30 minutes of arrival in the Emergency Department.

RTH partners with Henrico Doctors’ Hospital to coordinate transfer for these highly specialized cardiac procedures. Through a collaborative partnership, Riverside patients transferred for heart catheterization are often eligible to receive follow-up care locally after their procedures.

“We are pleased with the results of the exercise. By establishing a coordinated system that meets the current recommendations of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, we can confidently say the communities of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula have access to high quality heart care. No matter how severe, rapid intervention and treatment are necessary when dealing with heart attacks or potential symptoms of a heart attack. Our partnerships and protocols help facilitate rapid response and coordinated treatment, which lead to an improved standard of care.” said Dr. James McCorry, Medical Director, Emergency Department.

Heart attacks are a critical condition requiring immediate medical attention. STEMI is the deadliest form of heart attack according to the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association. Symptoms include chest discomfort (with or without radiation to the arm(s), back, neck and/or jaw), shortness of breath, weakness, excessive sweating, nausea and lightheadedness.

American Heart Association statistics estimate there are between 250,000 and 500,000 STEMI events annually in the United States. They also show that morbidity and mortality due to heart attacks can be reduced significantly if patients and bystanders recognize symptoms early, activate the EMS system and thereby shorten the time to definitive treatment.

Published: January 6, 2012