An audit of activity and outcome from a daily and a weekly "one stop" rapid assessment chest pain clinic

J Byrne, D Murdoch, C Morrison, J McMurray
Postgraduate Medical Journal 2002, 78 (915): 43-6

OBJECTIVES: The recent National Service Framework for coronary heart disease advocates the establishment of rapid assessment clinics for chest pain. But how should these clinics be organised and do they fulfil their objectives? The aim of this study was to compare referral patterns to a daily and a weekly "one stop" rapid access chest pain clinic (RACPC), and to examine clinical outcome in patients attending these clinics.

DESIGN: Patients were prospectively categorised into one of the following subgroups: "acute coronary syndrome", "stable coronary heart disease", or "low risk/non-coronary chest pain". Fatal and non-fatal outcomes were audited over eight months.

SETTING: Both RACPCs were situated within the cardiology departments of two large Glasgow teaching hospitals. Patients were seen by a cardiologist, and underwent non-invasive testing.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 633 patients with chest pain who were referred by their general practitioner; 500 came to the daily and 133 to the weekly clinic. Forty four (7%) were categorised as having an acute coronary syndrome, 267 (42%) as stable coronary artery disease, and 322 (51%) as low risk/non-coronary chest pain.

RESULTS: Referral patterns to the two clinics differed significantly. Compared with the weekly clinic, more patients with an acute coronary syndrome (7.8 v. 3.8%) and low risk/non-coronary chest pain (55.2 v. 35.6%), but fewer patients with stable coronary disease (37.0 v. 61.6%) were referred to the daily clinic (p<0.00001). During follow up eight (1.3%) patients died from a cardiac cause, and eight (1.3%) patients suffered a myocardial infarction. None of these patients were classified as low risk/non-coronary chest pain.

CONCLUSIONS: (1) RACPCs do provide an effective tool for the early assessment of patients with possible angina. (2) The frequency with which clinics are scheduled may be an important factor in determining how the service is utilised in practice.

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