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Crit Pathw Cardiol. 2004 Jun;3(2):53-61. doi: 10.1097/01.hpc.0000128714.35330.6d.

Implications of the mechanical (PCI) vs thrombolytic controversy for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction on the organization of emergency medical services: the Boston EMS experience.

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Boston Emergency Medical Service, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


With the many advances in rapid reperfusion therapy for management of acute ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), there is a need to revisit the current plan for prehospital triage (point of entry). Until recently in Boston, and nationwide, there has been a policy that patients with suspected acute MI were brought to the nearest hospital. Then, if ST segment elevation was present, patients were treated with either thrombolytic therapy or primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Recent data, however, have shown that with advances in interventional devices, techniques and institutional experience, primary PCI is associated with improved outcomes compared with thrombolytic therapy for all patients with STEMI when provided at expert centers with high institutional volumes, with experienced interventional cardiologists as the operators, and with relatively short time to treatment. We describe the rationale for and the implementation of the Boston EMS STEMI Triage Plan and Treatment Registry. Many of the issues that prompted the implementation of the Boston STEMI plan are relevant to all EMS systems. Among these issues are the accuracy of prehospital identification of STEMI patients, the availability of mechanical reperfusion therapy, the appropriate triage of patients with complicated myocardial infarction or shock, as well as the local consensus regarding strength of the evidence favoring mechanical reperfusion. This article describes the history of the Boston EMS STEMI Triage Plan and Treatment Registry and suggests the need for other EMS systems to develop a systematic approach to patients with STEMI.

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