Heart patients with depression often experience ER delays

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A retrospective cohort study recently published online in CMAJ revealed that patients with depression who seek emergency treatment for depression are less likely to receive timely care. Clare Atzema, MD, and colleagues at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, reported that these patients are not only significantly more likely to get a low triage score; they also deal with significant delays in diagnostic testing and definitive care. The researchers theorized that the delays in care could be attributed to the fact that ER workers are accustomed to patients with a history of depression suffering symptoms related to anxiety or summarization of depression rather than actually suffering a myocardial infarction (MI). ER workers actively look for alternative explanations for symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath because the majority of patients who come to the emergency department are not having an MI. “We suspect that mistriage of these (depressed) patients is not due to purposeful discrimination by emergency department staff, but rather that most emergency department staff are unaware of data that suggests a link between depression and coronary artery disease,” they researchers commented. Click here to read an article from Medpage Today that discusses this study more.

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