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Ann Emerg Med. 2008 Dec;52(6):677-685. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2008.06.004. Epub 2008 Aug 27.

Regionalization of care for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction: is it too soon?

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  • 1School of Policy, Planning, and Development, University of Southern California, CA, USA.


Interest in regionalization of the care of acute ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) has gained momentum recently. Optimal treatment of STEMI involves balancing time to treatment and reperfusion options. Primary percutaneous coronary intervention, when performed in a timely fashion, has been shown to be more effective than fibrinolysis. However, numerous practical barriers prevent many STEMI patients from receiving primary percutaneous coronary intervention. In an effort to increase beneficial primary percutaneous coronary intervention administration to STEMI patients, health care leaders have proposed regionalized STEMI care networks with advanced emergency medical services (EMS) involvement. Constructing regionalized STEMI networks presents a policy challenge because this shift in STEMI care would require changes in current EMS and emergency medicine practices. Therefore, we present various perspectives and issues that decisionmakers and system organizers must address properly before deciding whether to adopt this new model of care. Reorganizing STEMI care in a manner analogous to how trauma and stroke care are currently triaged and treated appeals intuitively; however, given the absence of evidence that STEMI regionalization actually improves patient outcomes and is cost-effective, more research is needed to determine whether STEMI regionalization is an efficient model for providing evidence-based care. The concept of STEMI regionalization represents an effort to inform policy according to evidence-based medicine, but real-world quality, geospatial, financial, cost, business, resource, and practice barriers present obstacles to implementing this concept efficiently and effectively.

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