ACC/AHA guidelines for cardiac catheterization and cardiac catheterization laboratories. American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Ad Hoc Task Force on Cardiac Catheterization.
It is evident that the practice of cardiac catheterization has undergone, and continues to undergo, marked change. Most prominent are the recent very rapid proliferation of catheterization laboratories in general and the development of newer types of catheterization laboratory. No uniform definitions exist for these newer laboratories, so meaningful communication is difficult. The new settings are of particular concern because their location, mobility, organization, and ownership raise questions about the quality of patient care. Most difficult to address are the questions about patient safety and physician conflict of interest. There are no objective data in peer-reviewed literature to support the reported safety and cost savings of these newer settings. Through deliberations, surveys, interviews, and correspondence with the cardiology community embraced by the ACC and the AHA, the task force generally found that in freestanding catheterization laboratories, access to emergency hospitalization may be delayed, and appropriate oversight may be lacking. Additionally, opportunities for self-referral may be fostered and the perception of commercialism and entrepreneurial excess in practice created. All of these problems must be avoided. The growth and development of some freestanding facilities, particularly the mobile laboratories, do not seem to have been driven by an increased need in remote communities or for temporary support but rather almost exclusively by a desire to capture market share. Accordingly, a series of definitions, guidelines, and recommendations for the laboratories as well as for patient selection has been developed. The consensus was that a very restrictive and cautious attitude to the newer settings is appropriate at this time. The justification for development or expansion of cardiac catheterization services must be patient need. Documentation of this need must be based on objective estimates of the number of patients with known or suspected cardiac disease who meet generally accepted indications for laboratory study. Concerns about the lack of data from prospective clinical trials of patient safety in such a group necessitate a very cautious attitude toward any new catheterization services, in particular those without in-house cardiac surgical support. In view of the lack of appropriately controlled safety and need data for hospital-based, mobile, or freestanding laboratories operating without on-site (accessible by gurney) cardiac surgery facilities, the task force reaffirms the position that further development of these services cannot be endorsed at this time. In addition, there is reason for major concern that such proliferation in catheterization services may contribute to increasing costs and troubling ethical questions.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association