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Healthwise: LifeNet

September 28, 2011

Doctors at Martha Jefferson Hospital are now able to start treating their patients before they actually get to the hospital.

"Early on they will apply electrodes to the chest to obtain the tracing that they will see on the monitor that will later be sent to the hospital through the LifeNet system," explained James Brady, with the Albemarle County Fire & Rescue Department.

On the way to the hospital, emergency responders can start an Electrocardiogram, or look for signs of a heart attack or other abnormalities. Even though the ambulance may be miles from the hospital, doctors can already start preparing the patient.

Depending on what the machine reveals, doctors will know whether a patient has suffered from a heart attack or not, and can better determine the next course of action.

"If it looks like it's a heart attack coming, we can actually alert the cardiologist and everyone else in the hospital to meet a patient at the door," said Dr. Jeffrey Alberts, who works in the hospital's Emergency Department.

With LifeNet, cardiologists believe they can treat a patient faster and decrease the amount of damage done to the heart.

"It really translates into reduced treatment time," said Dr. Joshua Fischer, a Cardiologist. "In the treatment of heart attacks the quicker we can treat the patient the better [he or she] does."

Whether a patient is still riding in the ambulance or has just been dropped off by emergency responders, doctors say having LifeNet on board can only improve a patient's chances at surviving a heart attack.

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