Wirelessly Transmitting EKG Data from EMS to Treat STEMI Patients Quicker

Minutes count for someone having a heart attack, especially if they are experiencing a ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the deadliest form of a heart attack. Almost 250,000 Americans experience STEMI each year, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

For a decade, Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute has been a worldwide leader in emergent care for patients with STEMI. At each of Carolinas HealthCare System’s percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) centers, including Carolinas Medical Center, CMC-Pineville and CMC-NorthEast, door-to-balloon times are less than 40 minutes, far faster than the 90-minute goal set by the AHA.

To further reduce time treatment time for STEMI patients, Cleveland Regional Medical Center and Kings Mountain Hospital just launched a new life-saving tool called LifeNet.

The system wirelessly transmits EKG data from the EMS to a workstation at the facility, alerting staff with sirens while also ringing the on-call provider’s cell phone during the patient’s en route transportation to the hospital.

“This allows us to activate the Code STEMI process quicker and contact the interventionalists in advance of the patient’s arrival in our ED,” said Bobby C. Smith, RN, BSN, CEN, EMT-P, director of emergency services at Kings Mountain Hospital. 

“LifeNet improves our ability to aid the EMS in making a decision about whether this patient is a Code STEMI or not,” said Stephen D. Wright, MBA, RN, assistant vice president of invasive cardiology services at Sanger Heart and Vascular Institute. “Treatment decisions can be made even earlier in the process.”

Cleveland and Kings Mountain are the only hospitals offering this program in Cleveland County. One neighboring county without a trauma center is following suit.

“Rutherford County EMS recently purchased this system to purposely match ours,” said Ivan Sanchez, MD, medical director of the Emergency Department at Cleveland.

Mecklenburg County EMS already has a similar system, but CMC and CMC-Pineville are adding LifeNet.

“This system also allows hospitals to exchange ECGs,” said Wright. “Cleveland and Kings Mountain will be able to forward ECGs to CMC or CMC-Pineville interventionalists or ED team.”  

“When dealing with a STEMI, time is muscle,” said Smith. “It is our hope that the addition of LifeNet will help us trim our times even more than what we’ve been doing historically.”

Dr. Hughlett with nurse Kings Mountain Hospital Trauma Center
Richard K. Hughlett, MD, emergency medicine physician for Cleveland County Health System, with Angela Alexander, RN, reviewing EKG data via the LifeNet system at Cleveland Regional Medical Center. Kings Mountain Hospital Trauma Center