Researchers have found a new, more effective way of testing patients who come to the emergency room with chest pain.
The new method will be used in the Chest Pain Emergency Room that opened at Shands on Wednesday.
Usually, when a patient arrives at the ER with chest pain, he or she is screened for immediate health risks, such as a heart attack, said Dr. Preeti Jois, a clinical assistant professor of ER medicine and medical director of the Chest Pain ER.
If the patient is determined to have low to moderate risk of a heart attack, a doctor prescribes an outpatient stress test, and it is the patient's responsibility to return to the hospital for more tests.
Before, the problem was that only about one in three patients who were prescribed a stress test were returning, said Dr. David Winchester, an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine and director of cardiovascular services for the Chest Pain ER.
Now, if a patient comes to the Shands ER complaining of chest pain, he or she will receive an EKG test within 10 minutes and will then be evaluated by a physician.
If the patient does not have a high risk of heart attack, he or she will be moved to the Chest Pain ER.
He or she will then be given a cardiac CT scan or another stress test and provided with information about what to do next.
The goals of the Chest Pain ER are to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and health care costs and to provide more accurate diagnoses and treatment to patients experiencing chest pain, Jois said.
"This is really a very unique unit in the Gainesville area that provides highly focused, dedicated care," she said.
The new method of assessing patients detects heart problems in about 28 percent of people tested, up from 2 percent with the old method of testing, Winchester said.
When potential problems are spotted early using technology such as CT scans, he said, patients are more likely to return for treatment.