The goals of electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring in hospital settings have expanded from simple heart rate and basic rhythm determination to the diagnosis of complex arrhythmias, myocardial ischemia, and prolonged QT interval. Whereas Computerized arrhythmia analysis is automatic in cardiac monitoring systems, computerized ST-segment ischemia analysis is available only in newer-generation monitors, and computerized QT-interval monitoring is currently unavailable. Even in hospitals with ST-monitoring capability, ischemia monitoring is vastly underutilized by healthcare professionals. Moreover, because no computerized analysis is available for QT monitoring, healthcare professionals must determine when it is appropriate to manually measure QT intervals (eg, when a patient is started on a potentially proarrhythmic drug). The purpose of the present review is to provide “best practices” for hospital ECG monitoring. Randomized clinical trials in this area are almost nonexistent; therefore, expert opinions are based upon clinical experience and related research in the field of electrocardiography. This consensus document encompasses all areas of hospital cardiac monitoring in both children and adults. The emphasis is on information clinicians need to know to monitor patients safely and effectively. Recommendations are made with regard to indications, time frames, and strategies to improve the diagnostic accuracy of cardiac arrhythmia, ischemia, and QT-interval monitoring. Currently available ECG lead systems are described, and recommendations related to staffing, training, and methods to improve quality are provided.
This article is reproduced with permission from Drew BJ, Califf RM, Funk M, Kaufman ES, Krucoff MW, Laks MM, Macfarlane PW, Sommargren C, Swiryn S, Van Hare GF. Practice standards for electrocardiographic monitoring in hospital settings: an American Heart Association scientific statement from the Councils on Cardiovascular Nursing, Clinical Cardiology, and Cardiovascular Disease in the Young: endorsed by the International Society of Computerized Electrocardiography and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Circulation. 2004;110:2721–2746.
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