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  • Patient Safety: Heart-Smart Care at Rhode Island Hospital

  • A Recognized Leader in Cardiac Care

    At Rhode Island Hospital, physicians, nurses, technicians and hospital administrative staffs work as a team to provide patients with outstanding surgical, medical and critical cardiac care. We work together to diagnose, study, treat and prevent cardiovascular diseases. A system of self-assessment allows us to establish guidelines, identify trends and implement necessary improvements.

    A coordinated care team of highly trained professionals is in place to help to deliver rapid responses for patients with emergency cardiac needs. In all instances, the well-being of the whole patient-including his or her family-is the focus of our care. 

    We work to keep patients safe before, during and after all cardiac evaluations, procedures, interventions or surgeries. The cardiac teams are held to the highest standards and undergo evaluations and advanced training. All cardiac surgeons are board certified. Registered nurses assigned to cardiac care are required to have at least three years of experience, and many nurses on staff have decades of experience in the care of cardiac patients. Our nurses are a stable and dynamic force in the care of all our patients.

    Rhode Island Hospital's designated cardiac catheterization labs and surgery areas are equipped with the latest technological advancements. These technological resources-such as three-dimensional digital heart mapping and echocardiogram equipment-provide the teams with real-time cardiac images. These images are used to pinpoint the source of the patient's cardiac condition and enable the cardiac teams to make recommendations, design plans of action, and are used in helping to restore overall patient well-being.

    Rhode Island Hospital is a leader in fostering state-wide awareness and training on how to treat stroke patients. Our clinicians have also been recognized with local and national awards for excellence in other areas of cardiac care. Rhode Island Hospital received the Barnet Fain Quality Award in 2006 in recognition of its outstanding door-to-balloon time cardiac emergency services.

    Improving angioplasty and door-to-balloon time

    Door-to-balloon time is measured from the moment a patient enters an emergency room to when an angioplasty balloon or stent is inserted into a diseased artery. The faster an artery is unblocked with a stent, the more heart muscle is saved.

    According to studies conducted by the American College of Cardiology (ACC), longer than 90 minutes of door-to-balloon time results in increased in-hospital mortality. Lifespan's hospitals have invested in reducing the time it takes for these procedures for our heart attack patients. Statistically, our recorded times for this procedure clock in at under 70 minutes, well below the national average noted by the ACC.
    Learn about additional measures we have taken with regards to this emergency cardiac treatment

    We have further enhanced cardiac patient safety by working to:

    • Monitor and explain each step of the procedure to patients and their families
    •  Keep patients safe in an infection-free environment
    • Discuss medication dosages and educate patients about do's and don'ts of medication safety
    • Design appropriate exercise and dietary plans for the patient to follow during recovery time at home
    • Provide a continuum of care by making follow-up calls to gauge a patient's progress at home, and scheduling additional appointments to continually monitor a patient's healing progress

    Improving triage time for stroke patients

    Rhode Island Hospital's stroke team comprises clinicians who are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of cerebrovascular accidents, or strokes. These clinicians are available around-the-clock for stroke emergencies. Rhode Island Hospital is designed as a primary stroke center by the Joint Commission.

    Due to the high instances of strokes and heart disease related deaths in Rhode Island (1 out of 4 people in Rhode Island will die due yearly due to heart disease, according to a National Vital Statistics Report issued in 2009), Rhode Island Hospital has taken a leadership role statewide by educating the public through a stroke awareness campaign. Additionally, clinicians train emergency medical technicians, or EMTs, on how to assist in the care and triage of stroke patients before the patient arrives at Rhode Island Hospital.

    Once a patient arrives at the hospital, stroke teams are in place to move at rapid speed to intervene and to provide immediate safe care. All departments within the hospitals are alerted, allowing the patient to move, if further testing is needed, from the emergency department to other medical departments seamlessly. This adherence to time sensitivity is key in the race to preserve the patient's life.

    Improving tPA time for stroke patients

    Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a thrombolytic agent that dissolves blood clots, the cause of most heart attacks and strokes. Studies have shown that tPA and other clot-dissolving agents can reduce the amount of damage to the heart muscle and save lives.  The American Heart Association and other groups recommend that the drug be administered to the patient in less than three hours after symptoms begin. Statistically, all of Lifespan's hospitals are in 100 percent compliance with this requirement.

    Preserving quality of life

    All staff members at Rhode Island Hospital have a common goal: to preserve a patient's quality of life through outstanding cardiac health services.