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ROCHESTER, MN – Just one minute of time can make a big difference in emergency department utilization by patients reporting low-risk chest pain.
That’s according to a new study from Mayo Clinic researchers, which was published online in The BMJ. The key, according to researchers, is use of a shared decision-making aid to involve patients more in their own care decisions, leading to fewer unnecessary hospitalizations or advanced cardiac tests.
"Chest pain can be caused by a wide variety of problems," explained lead author Erik Hess, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Mayo Clinic. "While we recommend that people seek immediate medical help when experiencing chest pain, the next steps can vary – and be unnecessarily costly."
Concerned about missing a diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome, “clinicians have a very low risk threshold to admit patients for observation and advanced cardiac testing,” said Hess, who added, “Despite little possibility that these low-risk patients are experiencing acute coronary syndrome, emergency physicians are more likely to default to admission for observation and additional testing. This presents a substantial unnecessary burden and cost to the patient and the healthcare system."