Author + information
- Received September 9, 2005
- Revision received November 6, 2005
- Accepted November 8, 2005
- Published online April 4, 2006.
- Saif S. Rathore, MPH⁎,
- Andrew J. Epstein, PhD, MPP†,
- Brahmajee K. Nallamothu, MD, MPH∥ and
- Harlan M. Krumholz, MD, SM⁎,†,‡,§,⁎ ()
- ↵⁎Address correspondence to:
Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, Yale University School of Medicine, Internal Medicine, PO Box 208088, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, Connecticut 06520.
A uniform policy for regionalization of ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) care raises several concerns. Transferring all STEMI patients to obtain primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) may be less effective than transferring only high-risk STEMI patients. Delays in time to treatment >60 min associated with transferring patients for primary PCI may result in increased mortality for the average patient as compared with providing immediate fibrinolytic therapy at their initial hospital; yet more than 95% of patients transferred for primary PCI in the U.S. exceed this 60-min benchmark. Superior outcomes associated with treatment at higher-volume regional STEMI centers are inconsistent among centers, and there is no direct evidence that patients will benefit by a transfer to a high-volume hospital from a low-volume hospital. Published data suggest as many as 800 PCI patients would need to be transferred to a high-volume PCI hospital to avoid a single death at a low-volume PCI hospital. Although European randomized trial data suggest transferring patients with STEMI for primary PCI may be superior to immediate fibrinolytic therapy, these findings are unlikely to generalize to the U.S. health care system given size, geography, and organization. ST segment elevation myocardial infarction care regionalization would require a massive redistribution of health care resources, depriving several hospitals of advanced cardiac care facilities, expertise, and associated revenue. Clearer evidence of the benefits and discussion of potential harms are needed before adopting a national STEMI regionalization policy.
This research was supported by grant R01 HL072575 of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Mr. Rathore is supported by Medical Scientist Training Grant GM07025 of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and Dr. Nallamothu is supported as a clinical scholar under a K12 grant from the National Institutes of Health (RR017607-01).
- Received September 9, 2005.
- Revision received November 6, 2005.
- Accepted November 8, 2005.
- American College of Cardiology Foundation
- Claim 1: primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is superior to fibrinolytic therapy for all patients
- Claim 2: directing patients to ACS centers with higher volume, more specialists, and more intensive treatment will improve their outcomes
- Claim 3: European-based studies of transferring patients for primary PCI are generalizable to the U.S
- Claim 4: STEMI regionalization can be organized like a level 1 trauma system