Data evaluating the impact of the history, ECG, age, risk factors, and troponin (HEART) Pathway on observation unit (OU) use is limited. The objective of this study is to determine how HEART Pathway implementation affects OU use.
An analysis of OU registry data from October 2012 to October 2016, 2 years before and after HEART Pathway implementation at an academic medical center, was conducted. Adult patients placed in the OU for chest pain were included. The proportion of patients placed in the OU chest pain protocol per total OU volume and hospitalization and myocardial infarction (MI) rates were determined. Proportions before versus after implementation were compared using χ2 tests and age was compared using a Mann-Whitney U test.
During the study period, 1688 patients with chest pain before HEART Pathway implementation and 1692 after were included. The proportion of chest pain patients in the OU per total OU volume decreased following implementation from (57% [1688/2968] to 43.6% [1692/3882]; P < 0.001). Before HEART Pathway implementation, the hospitalization rate was 10.4% (175/1688) versus 12.4% (210/1692) after (P = 0.07). More patients were diagnosed with MI following implementation (0.8% [14/1665] vs. 2.0% [33/1686]; P = 0. 008). Median age was older postimplementation (52 years [IQR: 45–59 years] vs. 54 years [IQR: 48–64 years]; P < 0. 001).
HEART Pathway implementation resulted in management of higher risk patients in the OU. Following implementation, OU chest pain patients were older and were more likely to be hospitalized or diagnosed with MI.