HOUSTON (October 09, 2008)

When chest pain is the symptom and a heart attack is a possibility, speed, teamwork, and skill can make all the difference in an emergency room setting. Demonstrating success in each of these areas, Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Memorial City is one of only a handful of hospitals in the Houston area to have earned an accreditation from The Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC), the national organization that establishes standards of care for patients who arrive at an emergency room with chest pain.

The Institute was awarded a full Cycle II accreditation with Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) by the Society of Chest Pain Centers following a comprehensive appraisal of hospital documentation and a rigorous on-site examination process. In order to receive the specific designation of "Chest Pain Center with PCI," a facility must have on-site 24/7 cath lab capabilities and meet the ACC/AHA standard for more than 200 primary PCI procedures for STEMI per year, of which at least 36 are primary PCI for STEMI, and that has cardiac surgery capability.

"Because every minute is critical in saving heart tissue, quickly diagnosing patients who arrive in our emergency department with chest pain is one of the most important things we do," said Charles Mitchener, chief executive officer of The Institute. "This accreditation validates the lifesaving measures we take every day and reinforces the confidence patients have in us for the treatment of chest pain.''

"Our door-to-intervention times are among the best in the Houston area," said Byron Auzenne, director of Cardiovascular Services. "That means if you are having a heart attack, we can open the blood vessel causing the attack, often within 90 minutes of the time you come through the door of the Emergency Department. That can save heart muscle and possibly your life."

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the United States, with 600,000 dying annually of heart disease. More than five million Americans visit hospitals each year with chest pain. The goal of The Institute and the Society of Chest Pain Centers is to significantly reduce the mortality rate of heart attack patients by teaching the public to recognize and react to the early symptoms of a possible heart attack, reduce the time that it takes to receive treatment, and increase the accuracy and effectiveness of treatment.

The Chest Pain Center's protocol-driven and systematic approach to patient management allows physicians to reduce time to treatment during the critical early stages of a heart attack, when treatments are most effective, and to better monitor patients when it is not clear whether they are having a coronary event. Such observation helps ensure that a patient is neither sent home too early nor needlessly admitted.

The Society's accreditation process ensures hospitals meet or exceed quality-of-care measures in acute cardiac medicine. And unlike other accreditations that a hospital is required to earn and maintain, Chest Pain Center accreditation is a completely voluntary process.

The Chest Pain Center at Memorial City has demonstrated its expertise and commitment to quality patient care by meeting or exceeding a wide set of stringent criteria and completing on-site evaluations by a review team from the Society of Chest Pain Centers. Key areas in which a Chest Pain Center must demonstrate expertise include:

  • Close coordination between the emergency department and the local emergency medical system (EMS) so that life-saving measures can begin en route to the hospital
  • Assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients quickly
  • Effectively treating patients with low risk for acute coronary syndrome and no assignable cause for their symptoms
  • Continually seeking to improve processes and procedures
  • Ensuring Chest Pain Center personnel competency and training
  • Maintaining organizational structure and commitment
  • Having a functional design that promotes optimal patient care
  • Supporting community outreach programs that educate the public to promptly seek medical care if they display symptoms of a possible heart attack

About the Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC)

The Society of Chest Pain Centers is a patient centric non-profit international professional organization focused upon improving care for patients with acute coronary syndromes and other related maladies. Established in 1998, the Society is dedicated to patient advocacy and focusing on ischemic heart disease. Central to its mission is the question, "What is right for the patient?" In answer, the Society promotes protocol based medicine, often delivered through a Chest Pain Center model to address the diagnosis and treatment of acute coronary syndromes, heart failure, and to promote the adoption of process improvement science by healthcare providers. To best fulfill this mission, the Society of Chest Pain Centers provides accreditation to facilities striving for optimum Chest Pain Center care. SCPC is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. For more information on the Society of Chest Pain Centers visit www.scpcp.org.