A systematic review of the evidence for rapid access chest pain clinics
To determine the impact of rapid access chest pain clinics (RACPC) on patient management, a systematic search (1966-2000) was performed of electronic databases, recent conference abstracts, citations of all identified studies, and by contact with other researchers. Studies of any design were included. Assessment of eligibility, methodological quality of studies and data abstraction was conducted independently by two reviewers. Outcome measures were sought in terms of admission rate of patients without acute coronary syndrome detection rate of acute coronary syndrome unrecognised by the GP, timing of specialist assessment of patients with stable angina and speed and accuracy of detection of those with non-cardiac chest pain. Nine relevant studies were found, but all had methodological flaws when considered as evaluative studies. All clinics described reviewed patients within 24 hours of referral. Only three studies made comparisons with control groups, none of which were randomised, and a further three provided follow-up data only. Limited data were found for all four outcome measures, indicating possible benefits of RACPCs. However, all findings could be explained by potential biases in the original studies. In conclusion, the evidence base for the introduction of rapid access chest pain clinics is poor. The introduction of these clinics should include a randomised prospective evaluation of their worth.