August 14, 2009

Heart failure program receives accreditation

Heart failure program receives accreditation

Vanderbilt Medical Center has received Acute Heart Failure Accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC).

Vanderbilt has met the criteria for a heart failure center by providing outstanding care for patients with all levels of advanced heart failure, which is defined by: the heart is unable to pump enough blood around the body to deliver the oxygen and nutrients that metabolism requires; and the heart is keeping up with demands, but only operating under high ‘filling pressures’ such that blood can back up into the lungs or other tissues.

Heart failure patient care accounts for 6.5 million hospital days per year, and 5.8 percent of all Medicare charges.

“It is a common condition that is associated with disabling symptoms and high mortality,” said Allen Naftilan, M.D., associate professor of Medicine. “Heart failure limits what patients can do physically and alters their quality of life.”

Most patients with this diagnosis will see an improvement in their health with proper medical treatment. When a person does not improve, he may be considered a candidate for heart transplant.

The accreditation process includes a review of the care of the heart failure patient from the onset of their symptoms through discharge from the facility.

To earn heart failure accreditation status, facilities must meet or exceed a wide set of criteria and then allow an on-site evaluation by a review team from the SCPC.

“This process really helps to standardize the approach to heart failure and creates standards that are fairly strict that all hospitals must meet in order to obtain the accreditation,” said Keith Churchwell, M.D., executive director and chief medical officer of Vanderbilt Heart & Vascular Institute (VHVI). “When patients come into an accredited acute heart failure center, they can feel comfortable that they are getting a level of care that meets these high standards.”

Areas in which a facility must demonstrate expertise include:

• Emergency Department integration with the Emergency Medical System
• Emergency assessment of patients with symptoms of acute heart failure—diagnosis
• Risk stratification of the acute heart failure patient
• Heart failure treatment for patients presenting to the Emergency Department in acute heart failure
• Acute heart failure discharge criteria from the Emergency Department
• Acute heart failure patient education in the Emergency Department and observation unit
• Personnel, competencies and training
• Process improvement
• Organizational structure and commitment
• Acute heart failure community outreach

The SCPC is a non-profit international society that promotes protocol-based medicine and process improvement science, ideally delivered through a chest pain center model, to address acute coronary syndrome and acute heart failure.