International organization applauds Upstate’s cardiac care

Upstate University Hospital received full accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers in December as an Accredited Chest Pain Center.

The society is an international not-for-profit that is focused on helping hospitals improve quality, cost and patient satisfaction in cardiovascular care.

Hospitals that are Accredited Chest Pain Centers have developed an expertise in dealing with patients who arrive with symptoms of a heart attack. Their staff emphasizes the importance of standardized diagnostic and treatment programs for chest pain and heart attack. They also evaluate and treat other medical problems and promote healthy lifestyles that can reduce the risk factors for heart attack.

To become accredited, Upstate had to:

  1. reduce the time from the patient’s onset of symptoms to the diagnosis and treatment;
  2. treat patients more quickly during the critical window of time when the integrity of the heart muscle can be preserved; and
  3. monitor patients when it is unclear whether they are having a heart attack, to make sure they are not sent home too soon.

“People tend to wait when they think they might be having a heart attack, and that’s a mistake,” says Gregory Fink MD, chief of cardiac surgery at Upstate. “The average patient arrives in the emergency department more than two hours after the onset of symptoms, but what they don’t realize is that the sooner a heart attack is treated, the less damage to the heart and the better the outcome for the patient.”

Accreditation through the society is more collaborative than other traditional certification models.

The accreditation process begins with a document that details key elements of optimal care. Its content is derived from peer-reviewed medical journals, professional society guidelines and the body of clinical acumen of participating clinicians. Specialists from the Society of Chest Pain Centers provide feedback, education and resources to help hospital staff improve the process of caring for acute coronary syndrome patients.

At Upstate, when someone arrives complaining of chest pain that may be signaling a heart attack, he or she goes directly to the Cath Lab for a cardiac catheterization. Doctors determine if any blockages in the arteries that feed the heart need to be stented, or if bypass surgery is required. This all happens within the first 60 to 90 minutes of arrival – by a hospital staff so skilled and knowledgeable about treating chest pain that it earned status as an Accredited Chest Pain Center.

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