Text taken from The New England Journal of Medicine: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1716701?query=featured_home
A 44-year-old man presented with severe chest pain and dizziness to the nursing post where he worked in Coral Bay, Australia, more than 1000 km from Perth and 150 km from the next nearest medical facility. He was the only nurse on duty when the symptoms occurred. Since no other medical personnel were available, he performed and emailed his own electrocardiograms to an emergency physician by means of the Emergency Telehealth Service (ETS). The first electrocardiogram showed complete heart block, right bundle-branch block, hyperacute T waves in the inferior leads, and reciprocal ST-segment depression in the anterolateral leads. The second electrocardiogram, obtained 50 minutes later, showed sinus tachycardia with 2 mm of inferior ST-segment elevation.
He self-cannulated both antecubital fossae for intravenous access and self-administered aspirin, clopidogrel, sublingual nitroglycerin, intravenous heparin, and opiates. Preparations were made for thrombolysis with tenecteplase, with real-time video interaction with the ETS. He attached his own defibrillator pads and prepared adrenaline, atropine, and amiodarone. After thrombolysis, there was resolution of his ST-segment elevation and symptoms.
He was transferred by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to a tertiary cardiology unit in Perth. The next day, coronary angiography revealed severe stenosis in the mid–right coronary artery with blood flow of Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) grade 3 and mild left ventricular systolic dysfunction. A drug-eluting stent was inserted, and his residual moderate coronary artery disease was managed medically. He was discharged home 48 hours later and continued appropriate medical therapy.
Western Australia covers more than 2.5 million square kilometers,1
and much of the state is sparsely populated. The provision of health care to persons living in rural locations is an ongoing challenge. In 2012, the Western Australian Department of Health started the ETS to provide health services to isolated communities, using health care professionals who could be accessed by means of information and communication technology.2
This system was intended to facilitate diagnosis and treatment and to aid in disease prevention, research, and continued education in these communities.3,4
The initiation of this service has improved the delivery and accessibility of health care.1
Thrombolysis is the standard treatment for patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction who are more than 120 minutes away from a hospital that is capable of performing primary percutaneous coronary intervention.5
Patients undergoing thrombolysis also undergo cardiac monitoring, intravenous access, and monitoring for infarct-related and thrombolysis-related complications. In the absence of other trained medical personnel or resources, the actions of this patient are likely to have had a substantial beneficial effect on the clinical outcome. However, a person’s self-management of a myocardial infarction cannot be considered medically appropriate if any other option is available.
Felicity Lee, M.B., B.S.
Paul Maggiore, M.B., B.S.
Kevin Chung, M.B., B.S.
Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Nedlands, WA, Australia
1. Dillon E, Loermans J, Davis D, Xu C. Evaluation of the Western Australian Department of Health telehealth project. J Telemed Telecare 2005;11:Suppl 2:S19–S21.
2. Herrington G, Zardins Y, Hamilton A. A pilot trial of emergency telemedicine in regional Western Australia. J Telemed Telecare 2013;19:430–433.
3. Bradford N, Caffery L, Smith A. Telehealth services in rural and remote Australia: a systematic review of models of care and factors influencing success and sustainability. Rural Remote Health 2016;16:3808–3808.
A health telematics policy in support of WHO’S Health-For-All Strategy for Global Development: report of the WHO Group Consultation on Health Telematics 11–16 December, Geneva, 1997. Geneva
: World Health Organization
5. O’Gara PT, Kushner FG, Ascheim DD, et al. 2013 ACCF/AHA guideline for the management of ST-elevation myocardial infarction: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation 2013;127(4):e362–425.