New tool can prevent unnecessary hospitalization and tests for patients with low-risk chest pain

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Chest pain is the second most common reason people visit emergency departments, and when they do it has been standard for patients to undergo further evaluation at the ER in order to determine future risk.

However, a research team at Mayo Clinic began introducing a shared decision-making tool called Chest Pain Choice that they found helped patients better understand their symptoms and risk. The extra step only takes about a minute and was shown to prevent unnecessary hospitalization or extra testing for patients reporting low-risk chest pain.

“What we worked with the patients to determine was, “does this need to be done in the emergency setting today, or is this something that could be done in the next three days?” explains Erik Hess, M.D. the lead author of the study and Emergency Medicine Physician at Mayo Clinic. “We would often work with them to figure out what actually fits best with your life, with your values and your own tolerance for risk, and in the past physicians would make that [decision] for the patient.”

The study found that the use of the Chest Pain Choice resulted in less overuse of hospitalization, which not only reduced the burden on the health care system, but also reduced potential costs for the patient.

Hess says the main motivation for this study was finding out how to best treat a patient and respect their right to make informed decision about their medical care.

“They should be treated like a human being, they shouldn’t be expected to subserviently agree to everything that they are asked to do. It’s a way of developing their trust and engaging them in decisions that really can impact their life,” he adds.





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