Lack of equipment, protocol could be deadly

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Judith Graham of the Chicago Tribune reports that the city’s ambulances don’t have equipment that can detect whether a heart attack is an ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the most consistently deadly kind of heart attack.heart

Complicating the situation, only about half of Chicago’s hospitals can perform the preferred treatment for STEMI heart attacks – balloon angioplasty – expeditiously around the clock, Feldman said. Yet the Fire Department takes heart attack patients to the closest hospital, regardless of its medical expertise.

In other U.S. cities, that equipment allows paramedics to alert hospitals so that doctors can be fore prepared to treat the patient as soon as they arrive at the hospital. Other cities also have hospitals that are designated as “STEMI ready” and paramedics can bypass closer hospitals to take patients to one that provides appropriate care.

Experts say that without the equipment, “”treatment is often delayed, increasing the chances that the patient will suffer permanent heart damage or die.”

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