Background: This article will describe the impact of prehospital electrocardiogram (ECG) use on emergency department (ED) processes of care for non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI) patients and assess the characteristics associated with prehospital ECG use.
Methods: This is a retrospective, multicenter, observational analysis of NSTEMI patients captured by the National Cardiovascular Data Registry-Acute Coronary Treatment and Intervention Outcomes Network Registry-Get with the Guidelines (NCDR ACTION-GWTG) in 2007. Patient and hospital data were stratified by documentation of a prehospital ECG (pECG). Hospitals were stratified into tertiles of pECG use by higher pECG (>5.6%, n 91), lower pECG (< or = 5.6%, n = 83), or no pECG (n = 100). Statistical evaluation was done via Wilcoxon rank sum and chi(2) tests.
Results: There were 21 251 patients eligible for analysis. A pECG was documented in 1609 (7.6%) patients. Of 274 hospitals, 100 (36.5%) had no pECGs recorded. Median ED length of stay (LOS) was shorter at no pECG hospitals vs lower pECG hospitals (3.97 h vs 4.12 h, P < 0.05), but not higher pECG hospitals vs no pECG hospitals (3.85 h vs 3.97 h, P = not significant [NS]). A pECG was not associated with an improvement in ED performance metrics (use of aspirin, beta-blocker, any heparin) in the higher pECG hospitals vs no pECG hospitals or the lower pECG hospitals vs no pECG hospitals.
Conclusions: Use of prehospital ECG in NSTEMI patients is uncommon. In contrast to its impact on reperfusion times in ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) patients, its use does not appear to be associated with an improvement in ED processes of care at the hospital level.