Ottawa researchers have validated a rule that could safely take a third of chest pain patients in the emergency department off of heart monitors, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Implementing this made-in-Ottawa rule could free up these monitored beds for sicker patients and reduce wait times.
“Chest pain is one of the most common reasons people visit Canadian emergency departments, with around 800,000 visits a year,” said Dr. Venkatesh Thiruganasambandamoorthy, lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa and a scientist and emergency physician at The Ottawa Hospital. “Between the two emergency departments at The Ottawa Hospital we see around 35 chest pain patients every day, and usually 25 are assigned to monitored beds. This rule would let us safely remove eight patients from these beds, freeing up the monitors for other patients.”
About 70 percent of chest pain patients who come to the emergency department are put in beds with heart monitors in order to detect a potentially dangerous condition called arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat. However, previous studies have shown that this condition is rare, with less than two percent of chest pain patients experiencing it during stay.