Incidence and characteristics of inappropriate and false-positive cardiac catheterization laboratory activations in a regional primary percutaneous coronary intervention program

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Abstract

Background

The implementation of regional primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) programs has been critical in achieving timely intervention in patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). However, 1 consequence has been inappropriate and false-positive cardiac catheterization laboratory (CCL) activations where either angiography is cancelled or no culprit lesion is found, respectively.

Methods

We performed a retrospective cohort study of 1,391 patients referred for primary PCI to a single academic center from November 2007 to August 2013. Our purpose was to determine the incidence and characteristics of inappropriate and false-positive CCL activations by emergency departments (EDs) or emergency medical services (EMS), and the effect of a quality improvement (QI) initiative to reduce such events implemented during this period.

Results

During the study period, there were 37 (2.7%) inappropriate and 206 (14.8%) false-positive CCL activations. There was no difference between the ED and EMS rates of inappropriate activation (2.1% vs 3.8%, P = .06). Among patients who proceeded to angiography, the false-positive rate for ED CCL activation was 16.9% compared to 11.5% for EMS (P = .01). Although there was no difference comparing inappropriate activation or false-positive rates before and after the QI initiative (P = .22), we observed an encouraging year-to-year trend.

Conclusions

Emergency department activation of the CCL is associated with a higher false-positive rate than activation by EMS. Further QI efforts are required to improve communication between interventional cardiologists, emergency physicians, and paramedics to improve the specificity of CCL activation while taking care not to sacrifice sensitivity and rapidity of diagnosis.

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