Ascension Via Christi's Wichita hospitals recently launched a Pulmonary Embolism Response Team (PERT), allowing the hospital to respond with a standardized approach to assessing and treating clots blocking an artery in the lungs.
The initiative has an added boost in that it is utilizing an artificial intelligence software program that the FDA approved for pulmonary embolisms. Ascension Via Christi St. Francis’ Comprehensive Stroke Center, also based at St. Francis, has successfully used a feature of the same software program for issuing stroke alerts for the past five years.
The team is using the PE pulmonary embolism (PE) triage and notification program to help identify, assess and develop a treatment plan for patients suspected to have a pulmonary embolism within three minutes of completion of their CT scan.
If the system's preliminary read of the CT scan detects what appears to be a PE, it sends notifications and images to the response team's smart phones.
"Radiology is still reading the scans and offering their professional advice," said pulmonologist Abdel-Ghanie Abu-Samra, MD, of Ascension Medical Group Via Christi. Dr. Abu-Samra serves as the response team's physician champion. "This rapid, multidisciplinary approach simply expedites and enhances the care that can offer our patients 24 hours a day."
The 15-member PERT, led by pulmonologists, is a multidisciplinary team that includes interventional radiologists, cardiologists, emergency physicians and hospitalists who work together to explore patients' best options and get them the individualized care they need as quickly as possible.
Thanks to new technology and therapeutics, today's treatment options include medication therapy, a clot-busting infusion or clot-retrieval procedure, all of which are available at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis.
"Having so many different treatment options allows us to tailor the treatment to the individual needs of the patient vs-. a one-size-fits all approach," said Dr. Abu-Samra.
Learning to use the PERT app was easy because the physicians on the team were the ones who customized the PERT notification algorithm for Ascension Via Christi.
Interventional Radiologist Nick Brewer, MD, says the new tool is helping to quickly identify patients who could benefit from a thrombectomy, or clot retrieval, vs. other types of therapy.
"Much like in the brain, time is tissue. Pulmonary emboli affects not only the lungs, but the heart as well," said Dr. Brewer. "This initiative will help ensure that patients with a pulmonary embolism are quickly identified and that as a team we can consider all of the options, including some of the newer interventions now available, to improve patients' outcomes and their quality of life."