The Pulmonary Hypertension Center at Rhode Island Hospital is one of the nation's first centers of its kind to be accredited by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA). For those affected by pulmonary hypertension (PH), accreditation assures them and their providers that they have access to the most advanced care available in the country.
The goal of PHA's accreditation program is to improve outcomes in patients with pulmonary hypertension, a debilitating disease of the lungs that affects the functioning of the heart and can lead to right heart failure.
"Because of our accreditation status, health care professionals in the community will know that the depth and breadth of our resources are available to them and their patients," said James R. Klinger, M.D., medical director of the center.
"Twenty years ago, no treatment was effective against this disease. Today, a quick and accurate diagnosis is critically important to ensure patients get access to treatment early," added Corey E. Ventetuolo, M.D., M.S., the center's associate director.
"Health care centers across the country are undergoing the rigorous review process to receive accreditation and demonstrate that they meet and exceed national standards of excellence," said Dr. Murali Chakinala, a member of PHA's Pulmonary Hypertension Association Oversight Committee. "In addition to providing lifesaving care for patients, these specialty care centers, like the one at Rhode Island Hospital, are valuable resources for medical professionals and families of people living with pulmonary hypertension."
To be designated as a PHA-accredited Center of Comprehensive Care (CCC), facilities must demonstrate quality and depth of resources as well as an array of therapies. Some of the other requirements include:
- inpatient wards with specially-trained staff and specific protocols for managing PH, including chronic prostacyclin infusion
intensive care facilities
a cardiac catheterization laboratory
an echocardiography laboratory with experience in PH
a pulmonary function laboratory
a pharmacy with access to and proficiency with parenteral prostacyclin agents
an active radiology department with experience in PH
active participation in at least three patient-oriented PH investigations within the previous three years
employ experts in pulmonary, cardiology and critical care medicine who have experience treating PH patients and have academic credentials
actively manage a cohort of PH patients
All accredited facilities contribute to a national patient registry at PHA to track diagnostic and treatment patterns as well as patient outcomes. This effort adds to the establishment of best practices in patient care and advancements in treatment.
The origins of the local highly specialized and modern PH center began 25 years ago when Klinger formalized the relationship between Rhode Island Hospital and University Medicine's Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine. It has since developed into a collaborative, interdisciplinary center that provides the latest treatments for patients with all types and severities of PH. In addition to their clinical responsibilities, the staff actively engages in research of investigational treatments through clinical trials, with funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the American College of Chest Physicians.
Because PH can be difficult to detect, the disease can escape diagnosis for years. Symptoms include shortness of breath and fatigue. Women are affected more than twice as often as men, and some people are genetically predisposed to the disease. Patients with connective tissue diseases, such as scleroderma and CREST syndrome, liver cirrhosis, HIV infection, or a history of blood clots in their legs or lungs are at increased risk of developing PH.