Patterns of practice in emergency department management of chest pain of suspected cardiac origin: Clinical utility of single stat creatine kinase (CK)
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The patterns of practice and the clinical utility of a single stat creatine kinase (CK) level in the emergency department management of chest pain of suspected cardiac origin were examined by a prospective observational study using a two-part questionnaire, completed by physicians before and after availability of CK results. The results showed that of the 776 patients in the study, 135 were admitted to hospital with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), 285 were admitted for reasons other than AMI, 343 were discharged, and 13 died or were transferred to another hospital. Although initial and final diagnoses in the emergency department did not differ in 597 patients (77%), initial decisions to admit or discharge were made in only 244 (31%) patients without waiting for CK results, and in 401 (52%) cases, decisions on patient disposition were deferred. Of 218 patients who had elevated CK levels, 193 (89%) were admitted, 121 for AMI. Only five (< 1%) patients who would otherwise have been discharged were admitted because of elevated CK levels. Of the 343 discharges, 245 (71%) occurred after the physicians knew the CK results. It is concluded that emergency department physicians routinely make changes in their diagnostic and management decisions based on current information and as it becomes updated. This study also suggests that there appears to be a heavy reliance on a single CK assay, although the relative importance of this diagnostic test compared to other factors is not known. Further studies are necessary.
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