Andra L. Blomkalns and W. Brian Gibler
Each year in the United States, over 8 million patients present to the emergency department (ED) with complaints of chest discomfort or other symptoms consistent with possible acute coronary syndrome (ACS). While over half of these patients are typically admitted for further diagnostic evaluation, fewer than 20% are diagnosed with ACS. With hospital beds and inpatient resources scarce, these admissions can be avoided by evaluating low- to moderate-risk patients in chest pain units. This large, undifferentiated patient population represents a potential high-risk group for emergency physicians requiring a systematic approach and specific ED resources. This evaluation is required to appropriately determine if a patient is safe to be discharged home with outpatient follow-up versus requiring admission to the hospital for monitoring and further testing.
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