Technology | July 22, 2010

Technology Helps Patients Receive Rapid Treatment for Hard-to-Detect Heart Attacks

July 22, 2010 — Western Maryland Regional Medical Center’s recent upgrade to the newest version of the Impax HeartStation ECG (electrocardiogram) Management System has helped enable the rapid diagnosis and treatment of patients with posterior wall heart attacks. The Cumberland-based hospital is using the recently released features of Impax HeartStation to digitally review and archive 15-lead ECG studies.

Compared to more commonly found 12-lead ECG equipment, 15-lead ECG provides more complete data for detecting heart attacks in the right and posterior ventricle walls. Impax HeartStation’s industry leading, innovative features analyze and prioritize 12- and 15-lead ECG exams as they come into the system and alert healthcare providers if a patient is experiencing a life-threatening or other critical condition.

“There’s an adage when a patient is having a heart attack that ‘time is muscle,’ which refers to the importance of returning blood flow to the blocked area via angioplasty procedure as soon as possible,” said Karen Stair, director of cardiovascular services for Western Maryland Regional Medical Center. “IMPAX HeartStation increases our clinical ability because it prioritizes and alerts emergency department doctors of critical ECGs.”

Impax HeartStation uses Agfa HealthCare-developed technology that identifies specific words or phrases in the ECG interpretation statement. Any exam matching the configurable keywords is immediately prioritized to the top of the ECG worklist. A distinctive, noticeable watermark is digitally created on the ECG tracing to notify the physician of the criticality of the exam.

To maximize the benefit of the new Impax HeartStation technology, Western Maryland Regional Medical Center has adopted a new departmental workflow. For example, because Impax HeartStation allows ECGs to be e-mailed, hospital IT staff created a limited-access e-mail account so that emergency room physicians can provide prompt access to critical ECGs to interventional cardiologists and electrophysiologists. This allows them to view ECGs and prescribe ER treatment from any location.

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