UMEM Educational Pearls

Chest pain is a very high risk chief complaint in emergency medicine. And although we are told by the experts what we should write on the chart, we often struggle with finding time to do so.

Given that we can't pick up every MI, dissection, and PE, what things can we document in the chart that prove we are thorough and that we have thought about a diagnosis? And how can we document a "protective thought process" without taking too much time to do so?

Consider documenting these on your chest pain charts:

  • Risk factors present/absent for ACS/MI, dissection, and PE
  • Good family history
  • Don't be sloppy with the history and physical exam. Doesn't matter if they help or not. Attorneys will have a field day discussing how sloppy the history and exam was. If the history and physical examination are bad get out the checkbook. 
  • Pulses in upper and lower extremity
  • Any leg swelling?
  • Any diastolic murmur?

Documenting key pertinent negative comments in the chart shows that you are thinking (and considering MI, Aortic Dissection, and PE), and whenever this can be shown in a chart, there is more ammunition for the defense attorney.