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QJM. 2006 Mar;99(3):135-41. Epub 2006 Feb 14.

Rapid-access chest pain clinics and the traditional cardiology out-patient clinic.

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  • 1Newham University Hospital, Glen Road, Plaistow, London E13 8SL, UK.



The National Service Framework for coronary heart disease recommends rapid-access chest pain clinics (RACPCs) for cardiological assessment of new-onset chest pain within 2 weeks of referral.


To measure the extent to which an RACPC successfully substituted for an out-patient cardiology clinic (OPCC) at a general hospital, in assessing new-onset chest pain referrals.


Prospective measurement of attendance and waiting times for consecutive patients at the RACPC and OPCC, and multivariate analysis of factors associated with referral for angiography.


From September 2002 to August 2004, 1382 patients with chest pain attended the RACPC, and 228 patients, the OPCC. All RACPC patients were seen within 24 h of referral, except those referred on Friday afternoons, or the day before national holidays. The mean +/- SD waiting time for OPCC appointments was 97 +/- 43 days. Of 208 OPCC patients, 30 (14%) fulfilled the RACPC referral criterion of recent onset chest pain (<4 weeks duration) vs. 926/1382 (67%) RACPC patients. Thus the RACPC substituted for the OPCC in 926/956 (97%) new chest pain referrals. Patients from the OPCC were 3.82 (95%CI 1.85-7.90) more likely to be referred for a coronary angiogram. compared to those attending the RACPC.


The RACPC has provided efficient and effective substitution for the OPCC in the assessment of new chest pain referrals according to pre-defined referral criteria. Broadening the referral criterion of the RACPC to patients with chest pain of >4 weeks duration would result in more referrals.

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