Pioneer nurse wins award for life-saving heart scheme
A NURSE has scooped a top award for spearheading a life-saving scheme which allows paramedics to treat heart attack victims with clot-busting drugs.
Scott McLean, a senior cardiology nurse specialist at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, has been recognised by the British Heart Foundation for his pivotal role in setting up the project.
Heart attack sufferers were previously rushed to hospital by ambulance and assessed in accident and emergency before being treated in the Coronary Care Unit (CCU).
Mr McLean and his team noticed that 60 per cent of patients in the region did not receive clot-busting drugs - or thrombolysis - within 30 minutes of hospital arrival.
So they set about training 189 paramedics to interpret and transmit electrocardiogram (ECG) readings from all patients aged over 16 complaining of non-traumatic chest pain.
The paramedics were also taught to administer thrombolysis from the ambulance when a heart attack is diagnosed.
Patients benefiting from the new scheme were given thrombolysis on average more than an hour earlier than patients under the conventional method.
The project involved paramedics, nurses, doctors and hospital managers who all worked together under Mr McLean's direction.
The 30-year-old was presented with a BHF Excellence Award for his contribution to driving the programme forward.
He said: "The scheme took about a year to develop and my job was to pull it all together. My primary role is in leading the Chest Pain Service at the Royal Infirmary but I saw the potential benefits of this system.
"I would say that the most valuable lesson for colleagues elsewhere involves being prepared to step outside job descriptions and embrace projects which, in essence, are 'nobody's job', but which can have a great impact."
Mr McLean, who studied at the University of Abertay in Dundee and graduated in 1995, added that he shared the award with his colleagues who worked alongside him.
He became the second person to be awarded a BHF Excellence Award in a scheme launched earlier this year. The awards are open to all nurses and allied health professionals working to improve heart health in any way in the UK and are handed out twice a year.
The Stirling resident was also awarded 1000 by the BHF to spend on his professional development.
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the BHF, said: "When someone suffers a heart attack, the time from the onset of symptoms to the delivery of clot-busting drugs is crucial for their survival. Every minute counts, which is why the achievement in Edinburgh to cut an hour off this delay is so impressive."
For pre-hospital thrombolysis, the average pain to needle time was 103 minutes, compared to 166 minutes by the conventional in-hospital thrombolysis.
Thrombolytic drugs work by dissolving the blood clot blocking the coronary artery. They should be given as soon as possible, ideally within an hour of developing symptoms, in order to reduce the risk of permanent damage to the heart muscle.
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