Evaluation of Provider Assessment of Clinical History When Using the HEART Score

Ravindra Gopaul, Robert A. Waller, Ricci Kalayanamitra, Garrett Rucker, Andrew Foy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The HEART Score is a clinically validated risk stratification tool for patients with chest pain. Using five parameters (History, Electrocardiogram, Age, Risk factors, and Troponin), this instrument categorizes patients as low, moderate, or high risk for major adverse cardiac events within six weeks after evaluation. Of these parameters, History is the most subjective, as providers independently assign their level of clinical suspicion. Overestimation of history, and ultimately the HEART Score, can result in increased resource utilization, expense, and patient risk. We sought to evaluate bias in provider assessment of history when determining the HEART Score. Methods: Emergency medicine (EM) and Cardiology providers received surveys with one of two versions of clinical vignettes randomized at the question level and were asked to estimate the history component of the HEART Score. Vignettes differed by age, risk factors, sex, and socioeconomic status (SES), but both versions should have received the same score for history. Statistical analysis was then used to assess differences in history assessment between vignettes. Results: Of the 884 responses analyzed, most providers overestimated the historical portion of the HEART Score when assessing risk factors, patient distress, age, and lower SES. Many underestimated history with knowledge of a previous negative stress test. When controlling for specialty, the universal theme was overestimation by EM providers and underestimation by cardiologists. Despite the presence of hypertension, gender differences, and the appearance of mild distress, cardiologists were more likely to correctly estimate history compared to EM providers. SES consideration generally led to an underestimation of history by cardiologists. These findings were all statistically significant. Conclusion: Our study demonstrates that both EM and cardiology providers overestimate history when considering prognosticators that are frequently viewed as concerning. Further education on proper usage of the HEART Score is needed for more appropriate scoring of history and improved resource allocation for hospital systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-428
Number of pages8
JournalOpen Access Emergency Medicine
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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