Code STEMI moves heart patients quickly from ED

One part of the special cardiac care program that helped Florida Hospital in Orlando receive accreditation as a chest pain center is the "Code STEMI" program. Code STEMI stands for "segment elevation myocardial infarction" and results in the patient being transported quickly from the ED to the catheterization lab.

The code was part of the improvements in cardiac care that recently gained the hospital accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers and Providers (SCPCP) in Columbus, OH.

Code STEMI is a new alert system that immediately notifies the hospital’s specially trained cardiac team when a patient is experiencing an acute heart attack, says Danielle Johnson, RN, BSBM, administrative director of cardiovascular services. She says the code works much like the better known "code blue" and is activated in the same way.

Calling a Code STEMI alerts the Florida Hospital ED, the emergency medical services team, the air ambulance crew, catheterization lab, and interventional cardiologists, says Jackie Mueller, RN, MSHS, administrative director of emergency services and flight medicine. When a patient arrives at any of Florida Hospital’s seven locations with chest pain, the Code STEMI system helps fast-track patients who meet certain criteria.

"Our goal is to perform an electrocardiogram [EKG] within just a few minutes of their arrival," she points out.

A physician on the Code STEMI team immediately reads the EKG to determine whether the patient is experiencing an acute heart attack. If indicated, he or she immediately notifies a cardiologist.

"A lot of our efforts to improve chest pain care focus on getting the patient out of the ED to the best care available, without any unnecessary delays," Mueller says. "The code helps us do that."