Emergency medicine physicians must rapidly obtain and interpret an electrocardiogram (ECG) to quickly identify life-threatening cardiac emergencies such as ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). Although ECG interpretation is a critical component of residency education, few high-powered studies exploring the accuracy of resident ECG interpretation exist.
This study aims to evaluate whether or not the inclusion of Third Year Emergency Medicine Resident ECG interpretations is noninferior to attending-only ECG interpretations in regard to time to STEMI activation.
This was a retrospective noninferiority study of STEMI activation times before and after the inclusion of Third Year Emergency Medicine Resident resident ECG interpretations into the workflow at an academic, urban tertiary care center between November 2020 and April 2022, excluding prehospital activations. The primary outcome was the proportion of successful STEMI activations initiated within 5 minutes of ECG completion. An absolute decrease of 10% between groups was chosen as the noninferiority margin.
In the attending-only group, 26 (66.7%) cases resulted in successful STEMI activations compared to 31 cases (77.5%) in the combined group. The proportion of successful STEMI activations did not differ with resident screening, X2 = 1.15, P = 0.28. The absolute difference between groups’ successful activations was an increase of 11%, which lies within the noninferiority margin (+11%, 95% confidence interval, −8.68% to 30.7%). Average times to STEMI activation in the attending-only and combined groups were 7.59 minutes (Standard Deviation [SD], 10.19) and 5.13 minutes (SD, 6.95), respectively. Average door-to-balloon times for those undergoing Percutaneous Coronary Intervention were 72.74 minutes (SD, 20.76) in the attending-only group and 89.90 minutes (SD, 67.74) in the combination group. Two sample t-test showed no statistically significant difference between the 2 groups for average time to STEMI activation (difference = 2.46 minutes, 95% CI, −1.46 to 6.38) and average door-to-balloon time (difference = 17.16, 95% CI, −39.73 to 5.41).
The inclusion of emergency medicine PGY-3 residents in the ECG screening workflow is noninferior to attending-only interpretation of ECGs with regard to STEMI activation time.