Thursday, December 13, 2012
Trident Health Among Nation's Best in Heart Attack Care
One of the most straightforward measures of hospital quality is how long it takes to open the clogged artery of a heart attack patient.
The less time used to restore blood flow, the less heart muscle is lost. So a hospital tracks the minutes and seconds that pass after the patient enters its doors to when the interventional cardiologist and support team unclog the artery. This is known as the door-to-balloon time (D2B).
Trident Health's average (D2B) time is 54 minutes, compared to the national standard of 90 minutes. And its success in heart attack response is one of many reasons why The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in America, recently named Trident Health as a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures, just as it did in 2011, when the list made its debut.
Together, Trident, Summerville and Moncks Corner medical centers attained some of the highest performance scores in the nation in treating heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia. That means they are giving patients the right care at the right time, according to The Joint Commission's proven set of core measures in those key areas.
“We've been ahead of the curve in the coordination of heart attack care,” explains Dr. William D. Yarborough, Trident Health's medical director for cardiovascular services.
Dr. Yarbrough has witnessed the impact of quick treatment for heart attack patients up close. He has seen a patient whose heart rate fell to 20 beats a minute ask to leave the hospital 20 minutes after having an artery opened. Yet, he understands that success stories like that don't happen consistently without thorough planning, and it has become a personal passion for him.
Six years ago, he helped launch a Trident Health campaign to reduce D2B times. It began by looking intensely at responses within the hospital's walls, and then working closely with emergency medical services (EMS) for Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties. Now, EMS can perform a 12-lead electrocardiogram (EKG) on a potential heart attack patient in the field. They then transmit the image to a Trident Health emergency physician to help determine if one of the heart's main arteries is blocked. If it looks like that's the case, the physician can go ahead and activate the hospital's cardiac catheterization team before the patient arrives, something that's even more critical after hours.
“It's a coordinated effort, from everybody involved in the field to the physicians to the nurses and hospital staff to the administration,” says Dr. Yarbrough.
Even as they have enhanced response times dramatically, Trident Health continues to meet monthly with EMS and also review each severe heart attack case internally to analyze whether further improvements can be made. In addition, Trident Health has been pushing for improvements on other Joint Commission heart attack measures as well, for example, delivering proper medications to patients, both when they are in the hospital and when they are preparing for discharge.
Trident Health was also recognized by The Joint Commission for treatment in two other areas – heart failure and pneumonia, and it is the only hospital in the Charleston area to make the list of Top Performers two years in a row. “This year's achievement displays the high quality of care patients can expect to receive when they come to Trident, Summerville or Moncks Corner Medical Center,” said Todd Gallati, Trident Health CEO.
“We've been ahead of the curve in the coordination of heart attack care.” Dr. William D. Yarborough, Medical Director, Cardiovascular services, Trident Health