June 23, 2006

Vanderbilt Chest Pain Center gains national accreditation

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Capt. Pat Cunningham

Vanderbilt Chest Pain Center gains national accreditation

Every year more than 5 million Americans come to hospitals complaining of chest pain. As the incidence of heart attacks rises, the need for standardized protocols for treatment for chest pain patients is critical.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center recently received full accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers, placing it in a group of providers offering optimal services for the diagnosis and treatment of acute coronary syndromes and heart failure.

“This process really helps to standardize the approach to chest pain and creates standards that are fairly strict that all hospitals must meet in order to obtain the accreditation,” said Waleed Irani, M.D., co-director of the Vanderbilt Chest Pain Center.

“When patients come into an accredited chest pain center they can feel comfortable that they are getting a level of care that meets these high standards.

“The review process sets the bar high. The minimum criteria are stringent.”

There are eight key areas that a center must demonstrate in order to receive accreditation, including integrating the emergency department with the local emergency medical system; assessing, diagnosing and treating patients quickly; continually seeking to improve processes and procedures; having a functional design that promotes optimal patient care; and supporting community outreach programs that educate the public.

“It's really all about the process,” said Jeannie Byrd, R.N., cardiology case manager. “It's about everyone being on board and agreeing with the standards and fine-tuning the process. This needs to be consistent with every patient.”

The center is a collaboration of the Emergency Department and the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.

“The main benefit of applying for this accreditation is that it ensures that patients who present with chest pain are treated according to set protocols,” said Marc Mickiewicz, M.D., co-director of the center. “It will improve safety as well as streamline our approach to the management of chest pain patients while improving their continuity of care.”

The accreditation, good for three years, is an acknowledgement of the ongoing commitment to the process of improvement, added Byrd.

The Society of Chest Pain Centers has three goals: to reduce the mortality rate of chest pain patients through education; to reduce the time it takes to receive treatment; and to increase the accuracy and effectiveness of treatment.