Teaching the interpretation of electrocardiograms: which method is best?

Graham Fent, Jivendra Gosai, Makani Purva
Journal of Electrocardiology 2015, 48 (2): 190-3

BACKGROUND: Electrocardiogram (ECG) interpretation is poorly performed at undergraduate and post-graduate level. Incorrect ECG interpretation can lead to serious clinical error. Despite the incorporation of computerized ECG interpretation software into modern ECG machines, the sensitivity and specificity of current technology remain poor, emphasizing the on-going need for doctors to perform ECG interpretation accurately.

PURPOSE: This is the first review in this important area and aims to critically evaluate the current literature in relation to the optimal format and method of teaching ECG interpretation at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

CONCLUSIONS: No single method or format of teaching is most effective in delivering ECG interpretation skills; however, self-directed learning appears to be associated with poorer interpretation competence. Summative in preference to formative assessment is associated with improved interpretation competence. Web-based learning offers a promising modern approach to learning ECG interpretation, though caution must be exercised in accessing user-uploaded content to supplement learning.

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