Background: Low-risk emergency department (ED) patients with chest pain (CP) are often transported by nurses to monitored beds on telemetry monitoring, diverting valuable resources from the ED and delaying transport.
Objectives: To test the hypothesis that transporting low-risk CP patients off telemetry monitoring is safe.
Methods: This was a secondary analysis of a prospective, observational cohort of ED patients with low-risk chest pain (no active chest pain, normal or nondiagnostic electrocardiogram, normal initial troponin I) admitted to a non-intensive care unit monitored bed who were transported off telemetry monitor by nonclinical personnel. A protocol allowing transportation of low-risk CP patients off telemetry monitoring to a monitored bed was developed, and an ongoing daily log of patients transported off telemetry was maintained for the occurrence of any adverse events en route to the floor. Adverse events requiring treatment included dysrhythmias, hypotension, syncope, and cardiac arrest. The study population included patients who presented during September-October 2004, whose data were abstracted from the medical records using standardized methodology. A subset of 10% of the medical records were reviewed by a second investigator for interrater reliability. Death, syncope, resuscitation, and dysrhythmias during transport or immediately on arrival to the floor were the outcomes measured. Descriptive statistics and confidence intervals (CIs) were used in data analysis.
Results: During the study period, 425 patients had CP of potentially ischemic origin, of whom 322 (75.8%) were low risk and met the inclusion criteria and were transported off monitors. Their mean (+/-standard deviation) age was 58.3 (+/-16.0) years; 48.1% were female. During transport from the ED, there was no patient with any adverse events requiring treatment and there was no death (95% CI = 0% to 0.93%).
Conclusions: Transportation of low-risk ED chest pain patients off telemetry monitoring by nonclinical personnel to the floor appears safe. This may reduce diversion of ED nurses from the ED, helping to alleviate nursing shortages.