Funding constraints and an oversupply of cardiologists mitigate against continued training of increasing numbers of cardiology fellows. In some institutions, the workload of the catheterization laboratory is an overriding factor. The ability of a physician assistant to perform some of this work was tested to determine if the, number of fellows and the content of the fellowship training program could be uncoupled from the catheterization laboratory workload. Among the first 150 patients in whom coronary arteriography was performed by a physician assistant, no patient died or had a myocardial infarction or stroke. Two patients (1.3%) had minor complications: a retinal embolus and an infected puncture site. The complication rate in 150 consecutive cases performed by fellows was also 1.3%, a small myocardial infarction and a transient ischemic attack. Procedure times for the physician assistant and for the fellows were 41 ± 13 and 44 ± 18 minutes for preoperative patients and 62 ± 24 and 70 ± 20 minutes for postoperative patients. Corresponding fluoroscopy times were 11 ± 5 and 12 ± 7 minutes for the preoperative and 22 ± 12 and 20 ± 6 for postoperative patients. Only preoperative fluoroscopy times were statistically different (p = 0.02). Thus, substituting a physician assistant for a fellow to perform coronary arteriography is an option in institutions at which the number of studies exceeds the training needs of fellows.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine