Emergency & Trauma

February 2, 2023

New pager system alerts for pulmonary embolism emergencies

A new emergency pager system allows emergency department and inpatient teams at Vanderbilt University Hospital to call for an alert for patients with pulmonary emboli.


by Matt Batcheldor

Vanderbilt University Hospital (VUH) has implemented a new emergency pager system for pulmonary embolism emergencies to expedite patient care.

The new system, which went live Feb. 1, allows emergency department (ED) and inpatient teams at VUH to call for an alert for patients with pulmonary emboli (PE) and high-risk features in a way similar to preexisting emergency pager systems: by calling 1-1111 or 615-421-1111.

The page will be received by multiple recipients in a newly launched pulmonary embolism response team (PERT). The caller will state that they have a “Massive PE” or that they need to activate the “PERT.” This will bring the in-house CCU fellow and CT surgery fellow to assist with management.

Treatment options beyond systemic thrombolysis and pressor support include ECMO, catheter-based thrombolysis, thrombectomy and/or surgical embolectomy.

“We are constantly looking for ways to improve patient care,” said Pete Fong, MD, associate professor of Medicine and medical director for Inpatient Cardiology. “We believe implementing this system and the new response team will lead to even more immediate, expedited care for some of our most sick patients.”

Bo Stubblefield, MD, MPH, an emergency physician and PE researcher added, “In 2022, we cared for around 300 patients with PE in the adult ED. A subset of these patients will benefit from the mobilization of resources provided by PERT in the acute setting.”

The system is for patients with known or suspected acute PE and hemodynamic instability, including cardiac arrest, shock and persistent hypotension.

Prior to the system implementation, VUMC had several emergency pagers, for heart attacks, strokes and trauma, to name a few. But it did not have a PERT, as this new pager assembles.

“It’s a way to quickly alert key players to this critical patient that’s decompensating, and we’ve got to move fast,” said Wendy Daigle, MSN, RN, CCRN, acute care coordinator for Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute.

“Bringing all these people into the discussion quickly will generate a prompt, patient-specific plan without having to consult multiple individual specialists.”