Keck Rapid Transport System saves AAS patient lives

Patients with acute aortic syndromes (AAS) such as aortic dissection or aortic stenosis often need immediate medical attention if they are to survive and there are few hospitals that can deliver the procedures they need. The team of surgeons at the USC Comprehensive Aortic Center at Keck Medicine of USC is one of the few in Southern California that is capable of helping patients with AAS.

Utilizing the Keck Rapid Transport System, the team at the Aortic Center can now get many patients with AAS to Keck Hospital in under two hours where they will be met by a dedicated team of vascular and cardiac surgeons trained to perform the risky procedures they may need.

The Aortic Center has a dedicated phone line that is answered by a medical professional 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Aortic Center Hotline (866-65-AORTA [866-652-6782]) is answered by a doctor or nurse practitioner and the patient is immediately evaluated by an on-call vascular or cardiac surgeon.

That surgeon makes the determination whether to transport the patient by ambulance or helicopter. Whether they need to be transported by ambulance or helicopter is determined partly by proximity, partly by the severity of their condition.

The intensive care unit and operating room teams are activated to admit the patient to intensive care and assess whether they will need immediate surgery.

Although Keck Hospital does not have an emergency room, the medical staff has the capability to provide emergency medical services in several areas. In fact, when it comes to acute aortic syndromes, Keck Hospital is one of the few area hospitals that can perform many of the complex procedures that save the lives of patients with acute aortic syndromes.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people still die in emergency rooms from aortic syndromes, which is why we started this,” says Fernando Fleischman, MD, assistant professor of clinical surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and co-director of the USC Comprehensive Aortic Center.

Currently, the team from the Aortic Center typically fields calls concerning between 30 and 40 patients every month through this program. 

“It is a lot of work and takes a lot of resources,” adds Fleischman. “We believe this is an important part of what we do and we are fully committed to this.”

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