Chest pain is a common reason for patients to present to an emergency department (ED). It is crucial not to miss presentations of the potentially life-threatening acute coronary syndrome (ACS), although often these people present with a non-diagnostic ECG. This makes recognition of a history consistent with ACS very important. We noted inconsistencies in assessment, with many admissions to cardiology beds who did not prove to have ACS and some erroneous discharges who subsequently did have an ACS.
We introduced a history based risk tool as part of a chest pain pathway into the ED for use by medical staff assessing patients presenting with chest pain. The intervention involved a nurse from cardiology engaging with clerical, nursing, and medical staff in the ED to ensure success of this quality improvement project.
The project showed a reduction in admissions to cardiology with suspected ACS from 29% to 15%, with a projected saving of £889 per patient who was prevented from being admitted. In addition, admissions became more appropriate, with an increase in the proportion of patients with a final diagnosis of ACS from 25% to 46% and a reduction in admissions with atypical chest pain from 75% to 54%.
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