Feasibility of an elective cardioversion service led by advanced practice providers without direct cardiologist supervision
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Background: Elective direct current cardioversion (DCCV) has traditionally been performed by physicians in the United States. A few recent reports from the United Kingdom suggested that a specialist nurse-led service for elective DCCV of persistent atrial fibrillation was feasible. This practice has not been reported in the United States previously. Several years ago, we introduced a program where specially trained advanced practice providers (APPs) (physician assistants and nurse practitioners) assisted by an anesthesiology team, performed elective DCCV in patients with atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter, without direct cardiologist supervision. Methods: Upon receiving approval from the Institutional Review Board, we conducted a retrospective analysis of 447 consecutive DCCVs electively performed by APPs, for atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, at Regions Hospital between 12/2006 and 10/2010. Transient deep sedation was administered by an anesthesiology team. The cohort was evaluated for procedural success and safety. Results: The procedural success rate was 92% (412/447). The incidence of procedural related adverse events, requiring immediate intervention, was 0.2% (1/447). This patient required emergent temporary pacing catheter insertion followed by a permanent pacemaker implantation at a later date. There were no other procedure-related complications and no thromboembolic events. A comparison with fifty elective cardioversions performed by cardiologists during the same period found no statistical difference in procedural success rates or complications. Conclusion: Under deep sedation administered by anesthesiology service, elective DCCV of atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter performed by well-trained APPs, without direct cardiologist supervision, is feasible and does not compromise patient safety.
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