U.Va. Health System Chest Pain Center Remains a Top Institution for Cardiac Care

September 11, 2009 — The Chest Pain Center at the University of Virginia Health System has once again been designated an accredited chest pain center by the Society of Chest Pain Centers, an organization that promotes national standards for cardiac care.

Earlier this summer, U.Va.'s 2006 accreditation came up for review and representatives from the society spent a full day reviewing all facets of U.Va.'s management of acute cardiac care patients.

"We have continued to make improvements in our care at U.Va.," sid Dr. David Burt, director of U.Va.'s Chest Pain Center. "For example, we have shortened the time from when a heart attack patient arrives at our door to the time they receive cardiac angioplasty. This dramatically improves patient outcomes,"

To become a designated Chest Pain Center, an institution has to be able to administer care in the following ways:

• Integrating the emergency department with the local emergency medical system
• Assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients quickly
• Effectively treating patients with low risk for acute coronary syndrome and no assignable cause for their symptoms
• Continually seeking to improve processes and procedures
• Ensuring Chest Pain Center personnel competency and training
• Maintaining organizational structure and commitment

According to Burt, quality emergency cardiac care is important to the community, especially as the population ages and the need for cardiac care increases. In the Chest Pain Center at U.Va., patients who experience chest pain or other symptoms have a center of excellence that works in close cooperation with local emergency medical services and U.Va.'s division of cardiology.

"This important designation means that not only do heart attack patients have access to the best approach for saving lives, but also that all aspects of U.Va.'s emergency cardiac care were found to be outstanding," Burt said.

U.Va.'s processes were evaluated not just by reviewers from the Society of Chest Pain Centers, but also by a delegation from the American Heart Association that wanted to witness an example of the accreditation process in action.

"The Society of Chest Pain Centers and AHA personnel observed how local emergency medical service pre-hospital providers provide pre-hospital care to heart patients and how they transferred care of these patients to ED caregivers," Burt said. "In addition, they saw how efficiently potential cardiac patients are treated and evaluated in the emergency department, and how the flow of these patients is managed and coordinated in close collaboration with cardiology."

Burt anticipates that an upcoming expansion of the chest pain center, scheduled for early 2010, will help meet growing demands for service and will provide additional opportunities to administer state-of-the-art care.

"We're confident that our relationship and coordination with local EMS members, our own internal team approach to cardiac care and our close association with the Society of Chest Pain Centers, will ensure that we remain the area's leader providing top-notch emergency cardiac care," Burt said.