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OHSU Hospital Wins Chest Pain Center Accreditation

It's the first facility in Oregon to win the distinction and one of only eight on the West Coast

The Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC) has granted full accreditation to Oregon Health & Science University Hospital and its Chest Pain Center after on-site evaluations, following an extensive application process, confirmed that OHSU meets or exceeds the SCPC's stringent quality-of-care measures. Those measures focus on rapid diagnosis and treatment of heart attacks.

OHSU Hospital is the first and only facility in Oregon and one of only eight on the West Coast to have achieved this distinction.

"What this means is that anyone with chest pain who comes to OHSU can be fully confident that they are in a place that meets the very highest national standards for patients with chest pain and heart attacks," said Robert L. Norton, M.D., OHSU professor of emergency medicine, vice chairman for clinical affairs for the Department of Emergency Medicine and one of the developers of the OHSU Chest Pain Center.

"Every minute lost in making a diagnosis can mean irreparable damage to heart muscle. The advanced medical knowledge and training of OHSU's doctors, nurses and support personnel together with our state-of-the-art technology give us the tools to determine rapidly whether the pain indicates a heart attack and, when it does, to immediately begin whatever therapy is most appropriate.

"Equally important, because of the protocols that OHSU's emergency medicine physicians and cardiologists have collaboratively developed, we're not only singling out for rapid treatment the high-risk patients but we're ensuring through our observation unit that the low-risk chest pain patients are neither sent home too early nor needlessly admitted to the hospital."

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the United States, taking the lives of 600,000 people annually. More than 5 million Americans visit hospitals each year with chest pain. The protocol-driven and systematic approach fostered by chest pain centers allows physicians to reduce the time to treatment during the critical early stages of a heart attack when treatments are most effective, and to better monitor patients when it is not clear whether they are suffering a coronary event.

The proliferation of chest pain centers led to the need for a system of accreditation. The SCPC's accreditation process insures that approved centers meet or exceed quality-of-care measures in acute cardiac medicine.

"Currently, any facility can call itself a Chest Pain Center without accreditation," said a bipartisan group of U.S. senators in a May 30 letter to the American Heart Association and The American College of Cardiology. The letter - signed by Sens. Arlen Specter, John McCain, Mike DeWine, Mary Landrieu, Sam Brownback, Herb Kohl and Orrin Hatch - urged the universal adoption of certain basic protocols for addressing heart attacks. "There is no way for the public to know which Chest Pain Center is legitimate and which is not," the letter went on. "Hospitals with Chest Pain Centers should only be able to make such claims if they are accredited as Chest Pain Centers."

Established in 1998, the SCPC is dedicated to patient advocacy and focusing on ischemic heart disease. It provides accreditation to facilities striving for optimum chest pain center care. Accreditation by the SCPC means a hospital has demonstrated expertise in these key areas:

* Integrating the emergency department with the local emergency medical system.
* Assessing, diagnosing and treating patients quickly.
* Effectively treating patients with low risk for acute coronary syndrome and no assignable cause for their symptoms.
* Continually seeking to improve processes and procedures.
* Ensuring chest pain center personnel competency and training.
* Maintaining organizational structure and commitment.
* Having a functional design that promotes optimal patient care.
* Supporting community outreach programs that educate the public to promptly seek medical care if they display symptoms of a possible heart attack.

OHSU is Oregon's only health and research university. As part of its multifaceted public mission, OHSU strives for excellence in scholarship, research, clinical practice and community service. OHSU includes four schools, two hospitals, numerous primary and specialty care clinics, multiple research centers and institutes and dozens of community service programs. OHSU's fundamental purpose is to improve the well-being of people in Oregon and beyond.

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For more information about the Society of Chest Pain Centers and its accreditation process, go to

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