May 13, 2010- A consortium of five Baltimore hospitals, led by the Johns Hopkins Department of Emergency Medicine, has acquired and donated to Baltimore city new wireless technology able to transmit electrocardiograms from the field over the Internet to hospital-based medical specialists.

The donation to the Baltimore City Fire Department includes 36 broadband units, enough to equip every paramedic unit in the city and have others available during peak service periods. In addition, the five hospitals each have acquired and installed matching software so that emergency physicians and cardiologists can see EKG data as it’s transmitted by emergency responders.

“This is all about patients — getting the best technology and the best treatment to heart attack victims when they absolutely need it the most,” says James Scheulen, P.A., the chief administrative officer for the Department of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital, who initiated the effort to acquire and donate the new technology to Baltimore. “This technology holds the potential to dramatically improve the treatment and outlook for heart attack patients.”

The consortium includes The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Saint Agnes Hospital, Sinai Hospital and Union Memorial Hospital.

When fully operational — sometime in the next month or so — emergency physicians at the five hospitals will be able to review EKG data in real time as it is sent remotely by city medic units. They’ll be able to quickly diagnose whether the patient is experiencing what’s known as an ST-elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI. This is considered a very dangerous form of heart attack.

Hospital emergency teams also will be able to get appropriate intervention equipment and other resources ready before the patient even arrives at the hospital, thus saving critical time for doctors to intervene and protect heart muscle from serious damage.

Currently, hospital emergency teams wait for a patient to arrive and then confirm their condition on an EKG machine before beginning treatment to limit heart muscle damage, usually with a balloon angioplasty or stents to reopen blood flow to the heart. Research and clinical experience have shown that the faster STEMI patients get appropriate treatment — known as “door-to-balloon” or “door-to-intervention” time — the more likely they are to have a strong recovery.

Hospital-based doctors will be able to get the real-time, diagnostic-quality EKG data streamed to them on a variety of devices, including a PC, blackberry or smart phone.

Scheulen, who initiated talks with the other hospitals earlier this year to acquire and distribute the equipment, said the consortium institutions moved quickly to form a partnership and get the job done as part of an ongoing commitment to improving health care in Baltimore.

Statements from emergency doctors and chiefs at partnership hospitals:

Statement from William Jaquis, M.D., Chief of Department of Emergency Medicine, Sinai Hospital.
“Receiving the right medical care in the minutes following a heart attack can mean the difference between life and death. Because every second counts, Sinai Hospital is proud to be part of this groundbreaking commitment to the community to help provide the newest technology to relay vital information from Baltimore City paramedics in the field to emergency room professionals at our hospital and at the other hospitals partnering with us.”
To arrange an interview with Dr. Jaquis, contact Helene King: 410-601-2296

Statement from Joseph Twanmoh, M.D., F.A.C.E.P., Chairman, Emergency Medicine, Saint Agnes Hospital
“This initiative will help improve cardiac care for patients in Baltimore. When one is having a heart attack, every minute counts. The ability of paramedics to transmit EKGs from the field to the hospital will give us in the emergency department valuable extra time to prepare for the patient and activate the cardiac catheterization lab and team. This will result in shorter times to definitive interventions such as angioplasty and stent placements. Heart attacks will be aborted sooner. Patients will have better outcomes and lives will be saved. Saint Agnes is excited to be part of this collaborative breakthrough.”
To arrange an interview with Dr. Twanmoh, contact Jessie Benson : (410) 243-3790

Statement from Cynthia Webb, M.D., Chief of the Union Memorial Hospital Emergency Room
“EKGs are portable. The technology is here. It only makes sense to apply that technology to those first responders who then put it immediately into process. Having that data prior to the patient’s arrival means better streamlined health care. It could prevent stroke, a second heart attack, and is especially critical with high risk patients; it could literally save lives. As a full-service cardiac hospital, Union Memorial is very happy to be a part of this advancement.”
To arrange an interview with Dr. Webb, contact Debra Schindler : (410) 554-2496.

Statement from Edward Bessman, M.D., Director of Emergency Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
“When the emergency department receives real-time information about a patient’s heart attack before the patient arrives at our doors, we’re better prepared to immediately treat them. This project is a great example of teamwork and technology truly saving lives and improving patient outcomes.”
To arrange an interview with Dr. Bessman, contact Karen Tong: 410-550-0128

Media Contact:  Mark Guidera
[email protected]