COMMITTEE EFFORT: From left, Sharon McKenna, RN, nursing director, Knight Center for Cardiovascular Interventional Therapy; Tom Blanchard, ACNS, MEd, MS, clinical nurse specialist; May Cadigan, RN, data nurse; and Ken Rosenfield, MD, medical director of Vascular Medicine and Intervention
Picking up on the momentum of this month’s Institute for Heart, Vascular and Stroke Care “Health Information Day” and participation in the 2012 Boston Heart Walk, two committees from the Institute – the ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) Quality and Safety Committee and the new Pulmonary Embolism Response Team (PERT) – hosted information tables Sept. 20 to help educate staff about the activation protocols for both conditions.
“PERT is a new, multidisciplinary resource for clinicians caring for patients with severe pulmonary emboli or deep vein thrombosis,” says Janet McClintic, administrative manager in the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center. “PERT coordinates and expedites care to provide the best therapeutic options available for each patient – integrating Cardiac Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Pulmonary/Critical Care Services, and Vascular Medicine and Intervention – and sometimes using video conferencing to determine optimal treatments.”
McClintic says it is important all hospital employees know the dangers of pulmonary emboli – clots that travel to arteries in the lungs, forming potentially life-threatening blockages. Beginning Oct. 15, in-house providers who suspect pulmonary emboli in patients are instructed to call 4-PERT (4-7378) to activate the team.
“Patients who have symptoms such as unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain and/or palpitations, coughing up blood, fatigue and/or fainting, need to seek urgent medical help,” McClintic says. “Time is of the essence.”
Time is also critical for STEMI, the most severe type of heart attack, which is identified by characteristic changes on an electrocardiogram (EKG). Heart attacks occur when a coronary artery becomes at least partially blocked by a blood clot.
Warning signs of a heart attack include, but are not limited to, chest discomfort; discomfort in other areas of the upper body; neck, throat or jaw ache; indigestion; shortness of breath; fatigue; cold sweats; nausea; and lightheadedness. If a patient displays the signs or symptoms of an acute cardiac event, staff need to contact the Rapid Response Team at 6-3333. Within 10 minutes clinicians should obtain a 12-lead EKG, contact the patient’s care team and transmit the EKG to the MUSE system. The Rapid Response Team is part of the STEMI committee, along with Interventional Cardiology, Emergency Medicine, and the Office of Quality and Safety.