The consistency of emergency physicians' and cardiologists' ECG interpretation and likelihood classification of chest pain patients

C Eken, E Goksu, O Eray, S Yalcinkaya
International Journal of Clinical Practice 2006, 60 (10): 1194-7
Patients presenting to the emergency department with chest pain are evaluated by emergency physicians in hospitals without cardiology cover 24 h a day. The purpose of this study is to determine the consistency of electrocardiography (ECG) interpretation and chest pain likelihood classification between emergency physicians and cardiologists. This randomised prospective cross-sectional study was performed in a tertiary care university hospital emergency department. The study form included ECG interpretation and chest pain likelihood classification according to American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association (AHA) guideline which were recorded by emergency physicians and cardiologists separately in a blinded fashion. All chest pain patients who consulted with a cardiologist were enrolled into the study during the study period. The consistency between the two groups and the kappa value were calculated. Recorded study forms of 133 patients with cardiology consultations were evaluated. The consistency in the interpretation of ECG between the emergency physicians and cardiologists was found to be 94.6% (kappa = 0.85) for ST segment elevation, 78.6% (kappa = 0.57) for ischaemic ECG findings and 79.3% (kappa = 0.36) for dynamic ECG changes. The consistency for the likelihood classification between two groups for predicting the pain as angina or non-cardiac was 90.8% (kappa = 0.30), for classifying as acute coronary syndrome or stable angina pectoris (SAP) was 95.6% (kappa = 0.26) and for classifying patients as low likelihood or intermediate-high likelihood was 86.3% (kappa = 0.61). A strong consistency was shown between the emergency physicians' and cardiologists' ECG interpretation especially in determining the ST segment elevation. And also, there is a strong concordance in the likelihood classification of chest pain patients.

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