Hoag’s Cardiac Team Sets a ‘Higher Bar’

Constantly striving to improve patient outcomes, Hoag sets new standards in cardiac care

When the rest of the nation’s hospitals set out to treat heart attack patients in 90 minutes, Hoag made its goal 60 minutes and has met it with an average time of 58 minutes for the past two years.

Hoag’s Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute sets a high standard for clinical accuracy, patient safety and patient satisfaction. This drive goes hand in hand with clinical innovation and introducing new treatment approaches and technology. For years, Hoag has been a leader in firsts, such as the first center in the nation to offer the state-of-the-art Allan & Sandy Fainbarg Electrophysiology Cath Lab Suite, and the Nancy & Bill Thompson Heart Valve Center, the first dedicated heart valve center on the West Coast.

So, it is no surprise that this innovation and dedication to patient care has yielded several accolades and awards, including one of the Top 50 Cardiovascular Hospitals in the Nation, awarded by IBM Watson Health and a “High Performing” accolade from U.S. News & World Report for a variety of cardiac care offerings.

“We set a higher bar for ourselves, and we achieve it,” said interventional cardiologist Richard Haskell, M.D. “We are committed to treating patients well and quickly.”

From emergency care for a heart attack to scheduled cardiac management, Hoag leads in coronary artery disease treatment. One of the approaches that Hoag uses to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction is radial artery access for angioplasty, or stent placement, in which an interventional cardiologist restores the heart’s blood flow through a thin tube placed in the wrist.

Traditionally, interventional cardiologists perform angioplasties, or stent placements, by accessing an artery in the leg, making for a more uncomfortable recovery.

“Following a traditional leg entry, a clinician needs to compress the artery for a period of time. The patient then needs to stay overnight and remain flat for several hours,” said Mahmoud Eslami, M.D., an interventional cardiologist. “Through the wrist, patients can sit up right away and may go home the same day.”

Research shows 97 percent of patients prefer the wrist approach for stent placement, over the leg approach, for these reasons.

“We’re able to get patients back to their normal lives more quickly,” Dr. Haskell said. “The idea is to make life easier for the patient. Sometimes that requires a learning curve on our part.”

That “learning curve” means continuously staying current on new equipment and new procedures proven to improve recovery time or reduce risk. Physicians who have done well for decades using the traditional procedure are not typically known for their eagerness to try something new. But at Hoag, a spirit of patient-centered innovation pushes the cardiac team forward.

“Our goal is really to put the patient first,” Dr. Haskell said. “If something is better for the patient that is what we commit ourselves to do.”