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Improving door to needle times with nurse initiated thrombolysis
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE To evaluate the effect of nurse initiated thrombolysis on door to needle time (the interval between arriving at the hospital and starting thrombolytic treatment) in patients with acute myocardial infarction.

DESIGN Comparison of door to needle times before and after the employment of nurses trained and approved to initiate thrombolysis without prescription by a doctor but with a protocol for rapid triage of patients with chest pain.

SETTING A district general hospital.

SUBJECTS All patients admitted with suspected myocardial infarction between April 1995 and March 1999.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Speed (door to needle time) and appropriateness of administration of thrombolytic drugs to patients with acute myocardial infarction who gave a characteristic history and had appropriate criteria on the admission ECG.

RESULTS During seven periods (each of four months) before the introduction of nurse initiated thrombolysis and a new chest pain triage protocol, the median door to needle time varied from 50–58 minutes. In four periods (each of 4–6 months) following the introduction of the changes, the median door to needle time was 25–30 minutes. The improvement was significant (p < 0.001). Nurses trained to initiate thrombolysis currently provide cover for 66% of the time. Median door to needle time for nurses was 15 minutes. Median door to needle time for junior doctors improved to 35 minutes. The median door to needle times when nurses initiated thrombolysis was significantly shorter than when doctors did so (p < 0.001). There have been no inappropriate management decisions by nurses approved to initiate thrombolysis.

CONCLUSIONS The use of nurse initiated thrombolysis has resulted in a clinically important reduction in the time taken for thrombolysis to be started in patients with acute myocardial infarction.

  • thrombolysis
  • acute myocardial infarction
  • door to needle time
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