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UCSF Earns AHA Award for Improving Quality of Care for STEMI Patients


UC San Francisco has earned the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® Silver Plus Receiving Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures intreating patients who suffer severe heart attacks.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than 250,000 people in the U.S. experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) annually. To prevent death, it is critical to restore blood flow to the heart as quickly as possible. The AHA’s Mission: Lifeline® program helps reduce barriers to prompt treatment for heart attacks – starting from the time 911 is called to EMS transport and continuing through hospital treatment and discharge.

“We are proud to be recognized by the AHA with this award for following the latest research-based standards in treating patients with severe heart attacks,” said Krishan V. Soni, MD, FACP, FACC, interventional cardiologist and medical director for quality and safety at the UCSF Heart and Vascular Center."We strive to deliver high-quality, safe care at every single touch point for each patient.” 

Proven strategies for continuous improvement

The UCSF Heart and Vascular Center implements a three-pronged strategy for improving STEMI care:

  1. Team members participate in quarterly meetings with the County of San Francisco Department of Emergency Management, San Francisco EMS providers, and representatives from all STEMI receiving hospitals in San Francisco. The goals of these meeting sare to share best practices, improve communication and develop county wide approaches to improving care for emergency cases of STEMI and cardiac arrest, as well as to increase access to that care.
  2. Monthly institutional multidisciplinary meetings are held with UCSF cardiac catheterization lab and emergency department (ED) staff members. All cases are reviewed and opportunities to improve communication and processes are discussed.Follow-up is conducted with ED physicians.
  3. Immediate feedback is provided to staff, physicians and the EMS team regarding process times and opportunities. Awards of recognition are given to team members when metrics are met.

The UCSF team also tracks arrival-to-ECG time for walk-in patients, conducting Kaizen (the practice of continuous improvement) in the ED to shorten triage-to-ECG times. New ECG machines with barcode scanners accelerate order processing, and a through put triage nurse helps to streamline waiting-room flow. 

Quality care and patient safety

“Providing superb care to patients is not just a matter of smart and well-trained clinicians – it also requires a system that works,”said Robert M. Wachter, MD, chair of the Department of Medicineat UCSF. “To build such a system, we need individuals who are skilled both in clinical medicine and in leadership and improvement science. Krishan Soni is ideally suited for this role.”

“My goal is to improve life for patients and their loved ones by providing the highest quality, most compassionate care,” said Soni. “We’re constantly measuring and improving.”

UCSF Medical Center is recognized as “high performing,” the highest ranking, in heart attack care by U.S. News & World Report’s 2021-2022 Best Hospitals survey.

To learn more

UCSF Cardiovascular Care and Prevention Center at Parnassus

Phone: (415) 353-7687 | Fax: (415) 353-7781

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