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Prehospital diagnosis and triage of ST-elevation myocardial infarction by paramedics without advanced care training

Warren J Cantor, Paul Hoogeveen, Andrew Robert, Karen Elliott, Lorne E Goldman, Erica Sanderson, Sylvain Plante, Manu Prabhakar, Steven Miner
American Heart Journal 2012, 164 (2): 201-6
22877805

BACKGROUND: Prehospital triage of ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) for primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) reduces treatment times. Prehospital triage and transport of STEMI patients have traditionally been undertaken in emergency medical service systems with Advanced Care Paramedics (ACPs). However, ACPs are not available in many regions. A pilot study was conducted to determine the feasibility of prehospital STEMI triage in a region with only Primary Care Paramedics.

METHODS: Hemodynamically stable patients with chest pain and suspected STEMI were brought directly to a catheterization laboratory for primary PCI. End points included accuracy of prehospital STEMI identification, complications during transfer, and treatment times.

RESULTS: One hundred thirty-four consecutive patients with suspected STEMI were triaged for primary PCI. Only 1 patient developed complications during transport (rapid atrial flutter) that required ACP skills. One hundred thirty-three patients underwent urgent angiography, and 105 patients underwent PCI. Based on physician interpretation of the prehospital electrocardiogram, there was agreement with triage decision for 121 (90%) of the 134 cases. The final diagnosis based on the angiogram and cardiac markers was true STEMI for 106 patients and false positive for 28 patients. The median first medical contact to balloon time was 91 (81-115) minutes.

CONCLUSIONS: Hemodynamically stable patients with suspected STEMI can be safely and effectively transported directly for primary PCI by paramedics without advanced care training. Prehospital STEMI triage for primary PCI can be extended to regions that have few or no paramedics with advanced care training.

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