Indian Path Medical Center | News Article

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Indian Path cath lab has door-to-balloon time down to 43.8 minutes!

Back row (left to right): Daniel Hutson, Ryan Gill, Tim Murray, Paul Lee; front row: Dr. Robert McQueen, Anna Orndorff, Laura Barton, Lindsey Strayhorn, Gina Dugger, Rachel Head; not pictured but part of the team are Chris Brackett, Hope VanHuss, Samantha Frederick, Susan Fannon, Damon Joseph, Chad Smith and Amy Broome.

KINGSPORT, Tenn. – It’s taken years of consistent effort, but Indian Path’s cath lab has reduced its door-to-balloon time for heart attack patients to a remarkable 43.8 minutes. Those can be life-changing or lifesaving minutes for the patient.

“As we all know, ‘time is muscle,’ ” said Monty McLaurin, VP/CEO at Indian Path Medical Center, quoting the American Heart Association’s slogan, “and by breaking the 45-minute barrier in door-to-balloon time, the Indian Path cardiac catheterization team has reached a significant milestone in improving the quality of care for patients experiencing heart attacks. This places our hospital among an elite group of health care facilities nationally.”

Door-to-balloon time for a heart attack (aka STEMI, or ST segment elevation myocardial infarction) measures how long it takes from the moment the patient enters the emergency department to when they have a catheter threaded through an artery to the heart, where a tiny balloon is inflated to open the blocked artery. In the meantime, the heart muscle isn’t receiving oxygen, and the longer that’s the case, the greater the damage to the heart.

The American Heart Association goal for STEMI programs is a door-to-balloon time of no more than 90 minutes. Indian Path met that goal several years ago and has continued to lower its goal, setting it for 60 and then to 45 minutes. Since the start of FY17 (last July), they’ve averaged 43.8 minutes.

“Each second there’s a blockage, the heart muscle is being deprived of oxygen. With that balloon, we start returning oxygenated blood to the heart,” said Tim Murray, director of cardiovascular/pulmonary services at Indian Path. “We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. It’s been a multi-disciplinary venture, truly a team effort with the cath lab, the ED, house supervisors and our EMS agencies. When we first set that 45-minute goal I was skeptical, but we kept working at it and we’ve actually made it happen.”

Paramedics have played a big part in identifying a STEMI in the field and bringing the patient straight to the cath lab, which decreases the door-to-balloon time even more.

Murray said the Indian Path team has done multiple VOS events (Value Optimization System), enabling them to dissect each part of the process and identify areas for improvement, even down to the smallest detail.

“The VOS events have given us direction and structure to help keep us on track,” Murray said, “and we’ve all taken ownership of each part, of being responsible in a timely manner, so we’re always looking to make and sustain improvements. We don’t want to plateau and then go backwards.”