Impact of ECG findings and process-of-care characteristics on the likelihood of not receiving reperfusion therapy in patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction: results of a field evaluation.

Brown KA, Lambert LJ, Brophy JM, Nasmith J, Rinfret S, Segal E, Kouz S, Ross D, Harvey R, Maire S, Boothroyd LJ, Bogaty P.



Many patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) do not receive reperfusion therapy and are known to have poorer outcomes. We aimed to perform the first population-level, integrated analysis of clinical, ECG and hospital characteristics associated with non-receipt of reperfusion therapy in patients with STEMI.


This systematic evaluation of STEMI care in 82 hospitals in Quebec included all patients with a discharge diagnosis of myocardial infarction, presenting with characteristic symptoms and an ECG showing STEMI as attested by at least one of two study cardiologists or left bundle branch block (LBBB). Excluding LBBB, an ECG was considered a definite STEMI diagnosis if both cardiologists scored 'certain STEMI' and ambiguous if one scored 'uncertain' or 'not STEMI'. Centers were classified according to accessibility to primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI): 1) on-site PPCI; 2) routine transfer for PPCI; 3) varying mix of PPCI transfer and on-site fibrinolysis; and 4) routine on-site fibrinolysis. Of 3730 STEMI/LBBB patients, 812 (21.8%) did not receive reperfusion therapy. In multivariate analysis, likelihood of no reperfusion therapy was a function of PPCI accessibility (odds ratio [OR] for fibrinolysis versus PPCI centers = 3.1; 95% CI: 2.2-4.4), presence of LBBB (OR = 24.1; 95% CI: 17.8-32.9) and an ECG ambiguous for STEMI (OR = 4.1; 95% CI: 3.3-5.1). When the ECG was ambiguous, likelihood of no reperfusion therapy was highest in hospitals most distant from PPCI centers.


ECG diagnostic ambiguity, LBBB and PPCI accessibility are important predictors of not receiving reperfusion therapy, suggesting opportunities for improving outcomes.