Impact of Chest Pain Protocol Targeting Intermediate Cardiac Risk Patients in an Observation Unit of an Academic Tertiary Care Center

Tariq Yousuf, Hesam Keshmiri, Jeffrey Ziffra, Ankur Dave, Shoeb Hussain, Joy Iskander, Khansa Ahmed, Bela Nand


Background: Chest pain (CP) is a frequent cause of emergency room visits in United States and adds a huge financial burden to our healthcare cost. With the addition of observation units, standard CP protocols have shown to decrease length of stay (LOS) and cost per discharge (CPD). We report our experience with the development and implementation of CP protocol for intermediate cardiac risk patients and its impact on healthcare resource utilization at our medical center.

Methods and Results: We retrospectively analyzed 30 patients who presented to Advocate Christ Medical Center (ACMC) with CP and were considered to be at intermediate risk for acute coronary syndrome after obtaining IRB approval. Patients were treated with our standardized CP protocol and labeled as protocol patients. Our control group consisted of patients with similar demographics and diagnosis but not treated with our CP protocol admitted in the same time period and under our own faculty. This helped remove the bias of different treating attending. Our protocol algorithm consisted of medications, an electrocardiogram (EKG), cardiac troponin I level, and a stress test if indicated. Primary clinical endpoints for this study were LOS in hours and CPD for patients in our protocol group compared to control group. LOS in the protocol group was lower compared to the control but the difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.74). The average CPD in the control group (mean = $13,446) was almost $830 more than the protocol group (mean = $14,276, P = 0.827).

Conclusion: Implementation of standardized protocols for patients with CP has proven to be a cost effective strategy at several institutions across the country. Our study showed a reduction in CPD although not statistically significant. LOS was also reduced but did not meet statistical significance mainly due to our small sample size. Previous studies had demonstrated much larger savings between a protocol-driven group and a non-protocol-driven group. On further analysis of our data, our protocol group contained five patients who underwent invasive diagnostic tests including computed tomography for pulmonary embolism scans which were not present in the control group. This accounted for the small reduction in costs for the protocol group.

J Clin Med Res. 2016;8(2):111-115


Acute care; Acute coronary syndrome; Chest pain

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