Early thrombolytic therapy after acute myocardial infarction is important in reducing mortality. To evaluate a system for reducing in-hospital delays to thrombolysis pain to needle and door to needle times to thrombolysis were audited in a major accident and emergency (A and E) department of a district general hospital and its coronary care unit (CCU), situated about 5 km away. Baseline performance over six months was assessed retrospectively from notes of 43 consecutive patients (group 1) transferred to the CCU before receiving thrombolysis. Subsequently, selected patients (23) were allowed to receive thrombolysis in the A and E department before transfer to the CCU. The agent was administered by medical staff in the department after receiving oral confirmation of myocardial infarction from the admitting medical officer in the CCU on receipt of fax transmission of the electrocardiogram. A second prospective audit during six months from the start of the new procedure established time intervals in 23 patients eligible to receive thrombolysis in the A and E department (group 2b) and 30 ineligible patients who received thrombolysis in the CCU (group 2a). The groups did not differ significantly in case mix, pre-hospital delay, or transfer time to the CCU. In group 2b door to needle time and pain to needle time were reduced significantly (geometric mean 38 min v 121 min (group 2a) and 128 min (group 1); 141 min v 237 min (group 2a) and 242 min (group 1) respectively, both p < 0.0001). The incidence of adverse effects was not significantly different. Nine deaths occurred (six in group 1, three in group 2b), an in-hospital mortality of 9.9%. Thrombolysis can be safely instituted in the A and E department in selected patients, significantly reducing delay to treatment.
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