Gerald J. Kost and Nam K. Tran
Point-of-care testing (POCT) is defined as testing at or near the site of patient care. POCT decreases therapeutic turnaround time (TTAT), increases clinical efficiency, and improves medical and economic outcomes. TTAT represents the time from test ordering to patient treatment. POC technologies have become ubiquitous in the United States, and, therefore, so has the potential for speed, convenience, and satisfaction, strong advantages for physicians, nurses, and patients in chest pain centers. POCT is applied most beneficially through the collaborative teamwork of clinicians and laboratorians who use inte-grative strategies, performance maps, clinical algorithms, and care paths (critical pathways). For example, clinical investigators have shown that on-site integration of testing for cardiac injury markers (myoglobin, creatinine kinase myocardial band [CK-MB], and cardiac troponin I [cTnI]) in accelerated diagnostic algorithms produces effective screening, less hospitalization, and substantial savings. Chest pain centers, which now total over 150 accredited in the United States, incorporate similar types of protocol-driven performance enhancements. This optimization allows chest pain centers to improve patient evaluation, treatment, survival, and discharge. This article focuses on cardiac biomarker POCT for chest pain centers and emergency medicine.
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