San Diego: Heart attacks only to cath-lab hospitals?

San Diego is considering a new system that would require ambulances to take patients experiencing serious heart attacks only to hospitals that have catheterization labs on site to insure that potentially-life saving treatment is given quickly. Currently, all but two of San Diego County's hospitals are failing to get patients into the cath lab within 90 minutes, which considered the standard by most experts.

"The way it is now, it's a free-for-all. Anybody goes anywhere, and there's no quality control. Patients can be taken to a hospital with no cath lab, and it can be hours before (paramedics) can get you to one," comments Sharp Memorial cardiologist Dr. John Gordon. Supporters think San Diego's system could help save lives. On the other hand, not everybody is convinced. The Minneapolis Heart Institute's Dr. Timothy Henry is among critics who note that the system being proposed is unlikely to exclude a number of the region's low-volume labs.

- see this article from the San Diego Union Tribune