Chest Pain: Is EMS Really Best?

Short answer: Yes.

Score one for EMS. A study published last January in the American Heart Journal evaluated transport and treatment times of patients who called 911 for their chest pain and patients who sought private transportation.

They found that patients who transported themselves to the emergency room arrived at the hospital in 35 minutes while patients who called 911 arrived in 39 minutes. (On average.)

Hold the phone. Before you tell grampa to forget the phone call and jump in the car, consider this; The study also concluded that the patients who dialed 911 received initial stabilizing treatments faster AND definitive treatments faster as well.

Those who called the ambulance received initial care like oxygen, aspirin and nitro in approximately six minutes as opposed to the self transporters who took 32 minutes to receive these interventions.

Ambulance crews who ran initial ECG’s and performed histories and physicals, delivered the patients directly to hospital beds and waiting staff members instead of the private transport patients who needed to wait in line and talk their way past a triage nurse before they could get the attention of the ER staff. This allowed the ambulance patients to reach definitive care like thrombolitics and cath labs an average of 17 minuts faster that their waiting room counterparts.

The next time someone asks if EMS really makes a difference, give the the short answer: Yes.

American Heart Journal, Volume 147, Issue 1, Pages 35-41

Related Articles:

Atypical Chest Pain

Wrong Medicine

Beyond The 1-10 Pain Scale

Understanding OPQRST


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  1. [...] Steve Whitehead has a great post about Chest Pain transport times. [...]

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