Cardiac Assessment Unit
The Cardiac Assessment Unit (CAU) is a special unit to assess and treat patients with life-threatening heart conditions based in the Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex. This unit treats patients with chest pain, heart attacks, palpitations (fast heart rate), faints and shortness of breath. Patients can self-present or be referred from GPs or other hospital departments.
The unit is staffed by nurses who are experienced in cardiology, all of whom have been trained in Advanced Life Support. Between them they manage to discharge 90 per cent of patients who might otherwise have to go to Emergency Departments in the region of 30 miles away. The remainder of patients are stabilised and then transferred to the South West Acute Hospital or Altnagelvin Cardiology Units or other hospitals within the province for definitive medical care requiring inpatient admission.
The Cardiac Assessment Unit also manages patients requiring elective DC cardioversion. This is a procedure whereby patients with an irregular heart rate get an elective electric shock to their heart to try to make it regular again. The unit is now supporting other Western Trust hospitals by arranging for patients from Enniskillen, Strabane and Foyle to attend the Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex for this procedure.
There is a lead nurse at all times who will have considerable experience in cardiology. Consultant cardiologists are heavily involved in decision-making regarding management of the patients attending the unit. There are clear pathways regarding assessment of presenting patients. There is a consultant cardiologist available on the Omagh Hospital site during normal working hours, with a consultant on-call for advice at all times.