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Chest Pain Center FAQs

As a benefit to facilities that are pursing accreditation, our Accreditation Specialists conduct monthly "Ask the Experts" webinars. Information about topics to be addressed in upcoming webinars is posted in the CPC Accreditation tool.

Our accreditation experts have also posted the answers to several frequently asked questions about a number of important healthcare and related accreditation topics.

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome Accreditation FAQs answered by Keri Morris
  • Targeted Temperature Management FAQs answered by Anna Ek

If you are require support for your Accreditation tool(s), please contact us at accreditationsupport@acc.org.

If you are a current customer and have questions about the Accreditation process or the tool, please direct your questions to customercare@acc.org.

If you have questions about any of our Accreditation or Certification programs, please email us at accreditationinfo@acc.org.

Keri Morris

Keri Morris, MBA-HM, BSN, RN, AACC, CCCC
Accreditation Clinical Product Manager

FAQ: Chest Pain Center Accreditation and Data Collection 

A: In v7, facilities have three options for collecting data:

         1. Submit all patient records into the Accreditation Conformance Database (ACD).  The ACD is the data repository housed in the CPC Accreditation tool which enables ongoing reporting of collected metrics to gauge progress toward meeting established goals

2. Submit all patient records into the NCDR® Chest Pain-MI Registry™

3. Submit all AMI (STEMI, NSTEMI, and Resuscitation (if applicable)) patients into the Chest Pain-MI Registry™ and all Low-Risk and Unstable Angina patients into the ACD.  This is a hybrid approach to data collection made available to participants in the Chest Pain-MI Registry

By providing these three methods, facilities have the flexibility to choose which words best for their program

A: Version 7 continues to build on the foundation of previous iterations of Chest Pain Center Accreditation, further raising the bar and ensuring the most current guidelines are reflected in the tool requirements.  It also continues to add additional recommended and innovative items for hospitals who choose to further move their facilities forward.  

Greater Focus on ROI
V7 further expands the financial benefits of establishing or improving a facilities chest pain program while ensuring quality care is rendered with limited variation.  

Expanded Focus on the Low-Risk chest pain patient in an Observation Status
V7 now includes a section on the treatment of the Low-Risk patient placed in Observation. This section provides guidance on reducing LOS, increasing revenue, reducing costly delays, and improving patient satisfaction and safety. These favorably impact ED throughput by accelerating bed turnover.  

Seamless integration with the CP-MI Registry to reduce the data burden for participants

A new "Quality" Essential Component (EC)
This new EC consolidates mandatory requirements centered around process improvement efforts. Quality is the cornerstone requirement to integrate continuous improvement in all aspects of care. These include the development of a Quality Assurance Performance Improvement plan, alignment with overall organization strategic goals, recognition, and treatment strategies for potential and known Acute Coronary Syndrome patients, and case reviews.

A new accelerated pathway to v7 accreditation is available to facilities who have earned a silver, gold, or platinum CP-MI Registry Performance Achievement Award

A: The vision for the ACS service line is to extend the focus beyond STEMI patients and help hospitals improve the care of the NSTE-ACS (NSTEMI and UA) and LOW-RISK patient populations. In most cases, these processes seem to be less defined. The LOW-RISK population accounts for 80% of the chest pain patient volume. Our accreditation tool guides hospitals in building hardwired protocols and pathways to efficiently risk stratify and manage these patients. Research shows not all Low-Risk chest pain patients require provocative testing or observation services. Implementing appropriate risk stratification for identification of those at sufficient risk of an acute event will better guide clinical decision making, along with disposition and stress testing options. These should always be coupled with shared decision making with the patient. There is a great focus to minimize the variability between providers and improve the utilization of resources to reduce costs while elevating the delivery of care.

A: STEMI patients are the most critical upon presentation. They are the quintessential emergency. Hospitals have done an amazing job at building solid processes to facilitate reperfusion of the culprit lesion. With a NSTEMI, the patient is still having a heart attack but has not progressed to a STEMI yet. The UA patient is displaying signs and symptoms of a heart attack but it is not evident on the ECG or cardiac biomarker (Troponin). Often the plan of care remains variable, dependent upon such factors such as the time of day, day of the week, risk stratification method, provider-dependent strategy, hospital resources, etc. Accreditation frequently reveals these variabilities and assists hospitals in developing pre-determined pathways to ensure the right care is delivered at the right time to the right patient. The guidelines are out there, but hospitals continue to struggle with operationalizing the science. For the Low-Risk patient care, pathways are even less well-defined, yet this group reflects the majority of the volume which brings a huge liability.

A: The Low-Risk population is an ongoing challenge. Despite an array of diagnostic modalities and strategies, there remains this task to appropriately identify those patients who require extended work-up or rule-out versus those who can safely be discharged from the ED. Failure to detect a patient with ACS and inadvertently discharging them can result not only in harm to the patient, but significant liability to the provider and hospital. On the other hand, patients not at high risk of having an acute event who are inappropriately admitted and undergo expensive evaluations set the facility up for extended lengths of stay, inappropriate resources utilization, avoidable costs, and decreased patient satisfaction. ACC Accreditation Services plays a vital role in setting the standard of care for the Low-Risk patient. By taking science to the bedside through the accreditation tool, facilities are given a road map to guide them in delivering evidence-based care. By collecting performance and outcomes data, we can demonstrate the impact our tool has on the components of value-based purchasing and reimbursement programs.

FAQ: Management of the Chest Pain Observation Patient

A. What can we expect upon implementing the recommendations found in the CPC Accreditation tool?

Reduced LOS
Less crowding in the ED
Fewer diversions
Improved patient satisfaction
Lower cost of care
Maximizes revenue opportunities
Increased through-put times
A. Added to the tool is a new section dedicated to Chest Pain Observation patients that provides guidance and best practices leading to better results. Implementing many of the items/recommendations within the tool have been shown to result in sustainable improvements. 
A.  Facilities will be able to track Observation-related data such as length of stay and Observation to inpatient conversions on an ongoing basis to measure improvements when care processes are implemented.
A. Our Accreditation Review Specialists, serving as consultants during the application process, are experts in process improvement initiatives, including those surrounding Observational care.  This expertise is provided at no additional cost to facilities as part of our mission to improve cardiac care. There is no other organization that provides this level of assistance as part of their accreditation program.
A. The v7 tool has expanded to include more best practices found to improve the delivery of Observational care.  The Essential Components will provide hospitals with an educational framework for clinicians, identification of appropriate Observation patient populations, ways to improve the handoff process, and methods to lower costs. Most importantly, within the Essential Components will be found better methods to demonstrate more succinctly the financial data surrounding the cost of excessive lengths of stay and unnecessary testing. This information in vital in finding support when process changes are needed.  
A. Medicare reports an ever-increasing number of patients placed in Observation, and therefore developing and implementing a financially sound unit becomes increasingly important.  Although Medicare does not specify where an Observation unit is located, there are important benefits to the establishment of a specific, dedicated unit that can focus on shortening length of stay, providing better patient outcomes and satisfaction, and lowering the overall cost of care.  
A. Medicare reports an ever-increasing number of patients placed in Observation, and therefore developing and implementing a financially sound unit becomes increasingly important. Although Medicare does not specify where an Observation unit is located, there are important benefits to the establishment of a specific, dedicated unit that can focus on shortening length of stay, providing better patient outcomes and satisfaction, and lowering the overall cost of care.  

Anna Ek

FAQ: Targeted Temperature Management (TTM)

Anna Ek, BSN, RN, AACC
Accreditation Review Specialist

Anna Ek has a strong background in cardiac, surgical, and PACU nursing. She began her nursing career during the time of thrombolytic trials which ignited her longtime passion for cardiology. She has a strong interest in EMS practices and has met with EMS throughout the United States. She is a strong advocate of EMS and the part they play in the pre-hospital care of the cardiac patient. In addition, Anna has a keen interest in Targeted Temperature Management (TTM) and continues to research its effects on the post-cardiac arrest patient.

Anna Ek is the in-house expert on drastically improved outcomes for the patient population because of TTM and "cooling centers."

A: Applications and protocols for TTM have not changed much in the past ten years. What has changed is the availability for patients to receive treatment post cardiac arrest in many regions of the country and world. More people in the country are aware of and are trained on bystander CPR and use of AEDs, vastly impacting survivability with intact neurological status. The impact of EMS assuming the care of the patient and transporting the patient to "cooling centers" has also drastically improved outcomes for this patient population.

The staff within the hospital setting have the patient under critical care for at least 24 hours of cooling time. During this time the patient is cooled, has vital signs, lab work, EEG and ECG monitoring constantly. It requires extra staff, technology and resources 24/7, thus the appropriate destination for EMS. We are encouraged by the community education aspect and its potential in the young cardiac arrest patient survival. Too many student athletes and people with no heart attack risk factors or coronary artery disease are dying. The newest campaign by the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association emphasizes this difference.

We have this discussion with our partner facilities and are invigorated by the rapidly increasing participation in this effort. Community education is part of our criteria for ACS, heart failure and atrial fibrillation. We are hopeful that this topic will soon enter the community's conscience as well.

A: There are more hospitals providing this care every day. We find the majority of them in metropolitan areas, but it is a possibility in mid-size and smaller facilities as well. It does require resources and staff to implement the protocols appropriately.

A: While it takes resources to have TTM at a hospital, it is not a huge financial barrier up front. The training on the cooling equipment is generally done by the sales representative for the staff. The probe, pads or blankets are not cheap, but considering overall costs, it lessens intensive care time and length of stay when the patient improves. These are truly critical patient scenarios and these loved ones deserve every possibility for survival. Long term care and therapy is where much of the care for a lot of these patients takes place, much as in the acute care setting. They may have some residual neurological and physical deficits that need to be addressed.

A: I wouldn't call it a trend; it is an evidence-based treatment protocol. I see it as standard of care for appropriate patient populations. TTM is not appropriate for all cardiac arrest patients, but I imagine that we will see non-cardiac arrest applications for other scenarios such as MI and stroke. We have seen it grow exponentially in its availability and application.

A: No, because EMS will generally take patients to facilities that have a Cath lab, bypassing non-PCI facilities. Perhaps we will see TTM in facilities for other applications in those instances. We may see some rural facilities treat these patients in order to keep the patient in their own community.

A: Applications such as stroke, MI and other morbidities determined in the future.

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