September 30, 2019

Background: Chest pain is a common chief complaint the Emergency Department, and the differential diagnosis includes life-threatening conditions from several organ systems including cardiac, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal, in addition to more benign etiologies. Historically, despite most patients not having acute coronary syndrome, there is still a high rate of medical admissions in patients with chest pain. The advent of accelerated diagnostic protocols has aided in guiding clinicians with decision making and disposition of these patients. This study aimed to address the question of whether or not an emergency medicine physician’s clinical gestalt would be sufficient to rule in or rule out acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Several studies have addressed this question with conflicting results. Given the high morbidity and mortality of acute coronary syndrome, emergency medicine physicians focus their clinical decision making on decreasing type II errors, i.e., false negatives. In clinical practice, this means having a low rule-out rate based on physician gestalt; in other words, most patients with chest pain presenting to the Emergency Department will have testing including an EKG and troponin level even for patients for whom the physicians have a low clinical suspicion for ACS.
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