Outcomes of physician-staffed versus non-physician-staffed helicopter transport for ST-elevation myocardial infarction

Sverrir I. Gunnarsson, Joseph Mitchell, Mary S. Busch, Brenda Larson, S. Michael Gharacholou, Zhanhai Li, Amish N. Raval

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background-The effect of physician-staffed helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) on ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) patient transfer is unknown. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the characteristics and outcomes of physicianstaffed HEMS (Physician-HEMS) versus non-physician-staffed (Standard-HEMS) in patients with STEMI. Methods and Results-We studied 398 STEMI patients transferred by either Physician-HEMS (n=327) or Standard-HEMS (n=71) for primary or rescue percutaneous coronary intervention at 2 hospitals between 2006 and 2014. Data were collected from electronic medical records and each institution's contribution to the National Cardiovascular Data Registry. Baseline characteristics were similar between groups. Median electrocardiogram-to-balloon time was longer for the Standard-HEMS group than for the Physician-HEMS group (118 vs 107 minutes; P=0.002). The Standard-HEMS group was more likely than the Physician- HEMS group to receive nitroglycerin (37% vs 15%; P<0.001) and opioid analgesics (42.3% vs 21.7%; P<0.001) during transport. In-hospital adverse outcomes, including cardiac arrest, cardiogenic shock, and serious arrhythmias, were more common in the Standard-HEMS group (25.4% vs 11.3%; P=0.002). After adjusting for age, sex, Killip class, and transport time, patients transferred by Standard-HEMS had increased risk of any serious in-hospital adverse event (odds ratio=2.91; 95% CI=1.39-6.06; P=0.004). In-hospital mortality was not statistically different between the 2 groups (9.9% in the Standard-HEMS group vs 4.9% in the Physician-HEMS group; P=0.104). Conclusions-Patients with STEMI transported by Standard-HEMS had longer transport times, higher rates of nitroglycerin and opioid administration, and higher rates of adjusted in-hospital events. Efforts to better understand optimal transport strategies in STEMI patients are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere004936
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • Acute myocardial infarction
  • Outcome
  • Percutaneous coronary intervention
  • ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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