(TNS) — Emergency medical service providers in five eastern Pennsylvania counties — including Monroe — are getting updated technology to care for severe heart attack patients.
The state, through the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund, Eastern PA EMS Council, Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Department of Emergency and Hospital Medicine, the Lehigh Valley Heart Institute, and Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono combined to provide more than $100,000 to cover most of the cost of 90 modems and data plans for EMS units to transmit electrocardiograms from the field.
“EKG transmission reduces the overall time to treatment by allowing the process to begin when the paramedics arrive,” said Dr. Ronald Freudenberger, physician-in-chief of the Lehigh Valley Heart Institute. “This positively impacts the outcomes of the patients and families we serve.”
EMS agencies from Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Monroe and Schuykill counties in Pennsylvania will pay much less for the upgraded technology, thanks to the state and regional support. LVHN is the only health network in the region to chip-in with this funding for this particular endeavor.
Ambulance personnel in those counties will soon be able to transmit EKG results wirelessly to area emergency rooms. This will accelerate the diagnosis and expedite the initiation of the life-saving care of patients suffering the most serious kinds of heart attacks, which are known as ST-segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction or STEMI.
Patients suspected by EMS providers of having a heart attack typically undergo a highly sensitive, 12-lead EKG performed by a first responder to confirm the diagnosis. Often, the cause of such attacks is a blocked heart artery.
If the ambulance can’t connect wirelessly to an ER via a modem, then a paramedic at the scene or on route to the emergency room interprets the EKG and must verbally alert the hospital’s ER physician that a heart attack is suspected. This diagnosis is confirmed upon arrival at the ER by a second EKG.
Ambulances equipped with modems can transmit the EKGs immediately to the destination ER’s medical staff for confirmation by viewing a large digital image of the results. This gives ER staff specific details about the patient and adequate time to prepare for their arrival, allowing them to alert the in-house heart attack team of the situation.
Additionally, the ER physician can forward the EKG image to the mobile device of the interventional cardiologist who will be treating the patient. Unblocking the attack-causing artery quickly gives the best chance for saving the patient’s life and the heart muscle that has often been deprived of blood during the heart attack.
“Through the ongoing support of our partners from Lehigh Valley Health Network, this technology affords our highly trained EMS practitioners immediate remote access to our emergency departments, medical command physicians and cardiology team,” said John G. Kloss, director of the Eastern PA EMS Council. “They can effectively diagnose critical cardiac dysrhythmias prior to arrival at a LVHN facility and expedite immediate intervention, effectively benefiting the patients we serve.”
©2019 the Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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