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How We Beat the Clock in Heart Attack Care

Every minute counts during a heart attack. Doylestown Hospital is recognized as a national leader in fast heart attack care and excellent door-to-balloon times.

Heart attacks are depicted in the movies as sudden and dramatic events. In reality, most people don’t grab their chests and call 9-1-1 when they are having one.

They wait and wonder, hoping their symptoms will go away, setting the stage for a different kind of drama.

“Every minute counts during a heart attack,” says interventional cardiologist David Boland, MD, Medical Director of the Woodall Chest Pain Center of Doylestown Hospital.

“Time lost is muscle lost, but people wait, on average, two hours before going to the hospital, and more than 50 percent drive themselves.”

Dr. Boland is part of a team at the Heart Institute of Doylestown Hospital recognized nationally as a leader in primary (emergency) angioplasty, the treatment of choice to open blocked coronary arteries during a heart attack to restore normal blood flow. The team includes staff from the ER and the Catheterization Lab (where the angioplasty is performed), as well as the physicians involved.

“We have excellent door-to-balloon times, which are measured from the time a patient arrives in the ER to the time his or her blocked artery is opened. But we are always looking for ways to improve,” he says. “It is crucial that emergency services are called right away.

“Our goal is to educate people to call 9-1-1 if they are having chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack. This gives us the chance to activate the team sooner so they are ready to step right in when the patient arrives at the hospital.”

The Heart Institute is now capable of receiving EKGs from certain ambulance squads, which allows the ER and Cath Lab teams to prepare even before the patient arrives. This is an important time-saving measure. It also saves time to start an IV as soon as a patient arrives, and to use portable oxygen and monitors to allow for quicker transport to the Cath Lab.

“We analyze every step, every time we do a procedure,” explains Dr. Boland. “We talk about it the next day and make suggestions for improvements.” Every case is followed carefully. Each member of the team receives e-mails detailing every step of the process and its timing to determine if goals are met and where improvement could be made. Regular drills solidify collaboration between team members. This kind of scrutiny contributes to the sucess of the process ... and a better end result for the patient.

FAST Heart Attack Care

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) recognizes Doylestown Hospital as a national model of excellence for door-to-balloon times for community hospitals. During the ACC’s 2010 conference, Doylestown Hospital was part of a “mock” emergency angioplasty to demonstrate best practices in achieving outstanding door-to-balloon times. Here’s how we compare .....

Door-to-Balloon Time

National “gold” standard: Less than 90 Minutes

Doylestown Hospital average: 62.5 Minutes

Doylestown Hospital goal: Less than 60 Minutes

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Review Date: August 19, 2010
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