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7 hospitals can furnish specialized cardiac help

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / MAY 2010
    A change in policy now allows EMS personnel to take patients suffering from the type of heart attack called STEMI to one of seven Oahu hospitals that can perform coronary angioplasty.
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Honolulu paramedics will now transport patients suffering from the most serious heart attacks to the facilities with specialized emergency treatment.

The city Department of Emergency Services announced the policy change last week, stating it was prompted by revised medical transportation guidelines issued by the state Department of Health’s Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention Branch.

Previously, EMS personnel were instructed to take patients suffering from the type of heart attack known as STEMI, or ST elevation myocardial infarction, to the nearest medical facility for treatment. ST elevations refer to a reading on an electrocardiogram.

New research shows that sending them instead to a facility capable of providing a procedure known as percutaneous coronary intervention helps improve their survival rates, EMS officials said.

Recently revised medical transportation guidelines released by the state Department of Health’s Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention Branch now allows the city Emergency Medical Services Division to transport patients suffering from the SEMI heart attacks to a facility capable of providing percutaneous coronary intervention, or coronary angioplasty.

The policy shift was made possible now that seven Oahu hospitals have coronary angioplasty capability. The seven Oahu hospitals are the Queen’s Medical Center, Straub Clinic & Hospital, Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center, Tripler Army Medical Center, Kuakini Medical Center, Hawaii Medical Center East and Pali Momi Medical Center.

Performing the procedure can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of coronary artery disease, including angina, shortness of breath and congestive heart failure. The procedure is also used to abort acute heart attacks and can, in most cases, significantly reduce damage to the heart, EMS officials said.

"This ultimately means the patient will get immediate care, which is vital to improving heart attack outcomes and survival rates," said Dr. Jim Ireland, acting Emergency Services Department director.

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