The measurement of cardiac troponin concentrations in the blood is a key element in the evaluation of patients with suspected acute coronary syndromes, according to current guidelines, and contributes importantly to the ruling in or ruling out of acute myocardial infarction. The introduction of point-of-care testing for cardiac troponin has the potential to reduce turnaround time for assay results, compared with central laboratory testing, optimizing resource use. Although, in general, many point-of-care cardiac troponin tests are less sensitive than cardiac troponin tests developed for central laboratory-automated analyzers, point-of-care systems have been used successfully within accelerated protocols for the reliable ruling out of acute coronary syndromes, without increasing subsequent readmission rates for this condition. The impact of shortened assay turnaround times with point-of-care technology on length of stay in the emergency department has been limited to date, with most randomized evaluations of this technology having demonstrated little or no reduction in this outcome parameter. Accordingly, the point-of-care approach has not been shown to be cost-effective relative to central laboratory testing. Modeling studies suggest, however, that reengineering overall procedures within the emergency department setting, to take full advantage of reduced therapeutic turnaround time, has the potential to improve the flow of patients through the emergency department, to shorten discharge times, and to reduce cost. To properly evaluate the potential contribution of point-of-care technology in the emergency department, including its costeffectiveness, future evaluations of point-of-care platforms will need to be embedded completely within a local decision-making structure designed for its use.
2012. Vol. 30, no 8, 1639-1649 p.