RENO, NV - When you are having a heart attack, every minute that passes can result in greater damage to your heart. That's why emergency room doctors at Renown Regional Medical Center hold a quarterly drill, to improve response times for patients with heart disease. "When we started this process somebody told me it's just like the military," explains Karen Meskimen, Cardiovascular Business Development Administrator at Renown. "The military does drills constantly and that's what we want to be doing, because that's how you identify opportunities where you can make things go better."
When a patient arrives at the check-in desk with symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea they are immediately sent for an EKG. If the test signals a problem, a team of emergency room doctors and nurses jump into action. While it may seem a flurry of activity from the patient's perspective, the group is well rehearsed. Each knows their role, introducing themselves to the patient and explaining why they are there and what will happen next. Once the Cath lab team is ready, the patient is brought in for the necessary procedure such as an angioplasty. During a drill on Thursday, the whole process took about 20 minutes. In a real life scenario, Meskimen says the average time is less than an hour.
Recognizing that you are having a problem and seeking help is the real key to saving your life. For more information on understanding the symptoms click on the link to the right.