Eastern Heart Clinic has hosted what has now become the largest annual gathering of cardiac catheter lab professionals in the world.

More than 800 catheter lab professionals – including interventional cardiologists, anaesthetists, radiographers, cardiac nurses and related personnel – gathered in Sydney on 24 June 2023 to discuss the best practice management and avoidance of rare complications in interventional cardiology.

The conference, known as Action Day, is an opportunity for cardiac catheter lab professionals to discuss how they deal with rare, real life complication scenarios – with the aim of equipping others with the knowledge and skills to manage a similar situation, should it arise in the future.

The event concept was inspired by the airline industry, where pilots are required to go into a flight simulator every six months to practice emergency procedures to ensure they are equipped to handle real life emergency situations, should they occur.

The event was the brainchild of interventional cardiologist Dr Mark Pitney OAM, who works as the Clinical Director of Sutherland Heart Clinic.

Dr Pitney says there’s much that “cath lab” professionals can learn from the airline industry.

“A pilot might go their whole career and never have an emergency, and yet there is an expectation that they will deal with it as though it is commonplace. Simulation training is how they achieve that”, he said.

Dr Pitney said Action Day was an opportunity for cardiac catheter lab professionals to practice critical thinking and hear about ‘real life’ medical scenarios to better prepare for any unexpected situations that may arise in their own practice – ultimately reducing complication rates for patients.

Thanks to advances in technology, expertise and training, he said serious complications were becoming rare in the catheter lab. “Some interventional cardiologists could go years without encountering a major issue,” he said.

“However, exposing clinicians to potential, albeit rare, complications and giving them an opportunity to think through how they would respond in these situations builds familiarity and a greater depth of experience.”

At Action Day, a steering committee selects a range of real-world catheter lab cases and invites the clinicians involved in those cases to deliver a detailed presentation of what occurred during the procedure and how they handled the case.

The panel then discusses the case and questions were taken from the audience so attendees can consider how they might handle the situation should they find themselves in a similar situation.

Action Day has now become one of the most well-attended conferences for catheter lab professionals in the world. What started 13 years ago as a gathering of 30 people has now become a “sell-out” event, attracting more than 800 catheter lab clinicians.

This year’s conference also saw the addition of a dedicated cardiac nurses’ stream, which was developed and led by Sutherland Heart Clinic Director of Nursing Sue Sillato.

Action Day 11 was held in Sydney on 24 June 2023 at Hilton Sydney. You can read more about the event here: https://www.actionday.com.au/