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Heart attack test could prevent misdiagnosis

When a patient enters the emergency room with chest pain, diagnosis can be complicated. Rushed doctors or nurses could ignore the immediate warnings of a heart attack, leaving patients without appropriate or timely treatment. In many of these medical malpractice cases, patients are sent home and later die of heart attack.

Around 10% of all ER visits in New York and throughout the United States are people with symptoms that may suggest a heart attack. Now a new test could cut the diagnosis time to one hour, removing the need for monitoring and prevent medical malpractice and wrongful death.

3 out of 4 patients that enter the ER require prolonged monitoring before they can be released. Now with the new screening process, this time can be cut down to an hour. According to a paper published online earlier this month, researchers suggest that the test screens more sensitively for heart attack.

As emergency rooms become busier and flooded with more patients, it is challenging for medical professionals to quickly assess and treat patients. This can leave room for medical error. Now, a new tool helps rapid triage of patients with suspected heart attack.

Doctors will look to quickly rule out heart attack for patients who enter the emergency room with chest pain. Usually this is done by a clinical assessment, electrocardiography and other biochemical market measurements. Without a rapid test for this biochemical marker, it can take more than three hours for results.

The new high-sensitivity cardiac tests appears to improve early diagnosis; however, it is not clear how doctors should use the tests in practice. It is possible that the new test increases positive results for other conditions. In practice, doctors would also have to consider that the results could vary by age and other characteristics.

Source: Medical News Today, "Heart Attack Test Gives Diagnosis in 1 Hour," Catharine Paddock Ph.D., August 16, 2012.

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