Cardiac catheterization is commonly used to assess the extent of artery blockage. The procedure involves injecting dye into a patient’s heart chambers through a tube inserted in a vein or artery in the leg, then using imaging equipment to track the dye’s flow. An invasive, expensive procedure, it is not without risk and should be undertaken with caution. In 1995, a study of area catheterization data showed that 52% of outpatient cardiac catheterizations did not meet the guidelines set forth by the American College of Cardiology.
From this study, the Coalition’s Cardiac Task Force developed an initiative to reduce the incidence of the procedure by developing a one-page outpatient pre-catheterization checklist. This initiative was implemented in May 1998 with the support and utilization of many area cardiologists. Following the intervention, a 1999 follow-up study indicated 82% of all outpatient catheterizations met the guidelines.
This effort was significant because it is believed to be the first time a community’s cardiologists collaborated across multiple hospitals to address an important issue. The Pre-Catheterization Initiative won praise from many members of the healthcare community—including providers, consumers, and insurers.