Chest pain is one of the most common complaints in patients presenting to an emergency department. Delays in management due to a lack of readily available objective tests to risk stratify patients with possible acute coronary syndromes can lead to an unnecessarily lengthy admission placing pressure on hospital beds or inappropriate discharge. The need for a co-ordinated system of clinical management based on enhanced communication between departments, timely and appropriate triage, clinical investigation, diagnosis, and treatment was identified.
An evidence-based Chest Pain Management Service and clinical pathway were developed and implemented, including the introduction of after-hours exercise stress testing.
Between November 2005 and March 2013, 5662 patients were managed according to a Chest Pain Management pathway resulting in a reduction of 5181 admission nights by more timely identification of patients at low risk who could then be discharged. In addition, 1360 days were avoided in high-risk patients who received earlier diagnosis and treatment.
The creation of a Chest Pain Management pathway and the extended exercise stress testing service resulted in earlier discharge for low-risk patients; and timely treatment for patients with positive and equivocal exercise stress test results. This service demonstrated a significant saving in overnight admissions.