JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

ECG interpretation skill acquisition: A review of learning, teaching and assessment

C J Breen, G P Kelly, W G Kernohan
Journal of Electrocardiology 2019 April 12
31005264
The recording of 12 lead electrocardiograms (ECG) is one of the most useful and commonly performed medical procedures. ECGs are used in diagnosis, risk-stratification management decision-making, and assessment in response to therapy. The correct interpretation of 12 lead ECG recordings is complex and clinically challenging with misinterpretation having the potential to result in poor outcomes or even patient fatality. Despite its widespread use, several studies have highlighted deficiencies in ECG interpretation skills among health professionals. The literature suggests that up to 33% of ECG interpretations have some error when compared to the expert reference and up to 11% resulted in inappropriate management. The pedagogy of ECG interpretation lacks universal establishment; time allocation, faculty training and teaching format vary considerably within the literature. This review of the literature reports how a lack of established ECG reporting methods may contribute to the variation in reported ECG interpretation competence across many healthcare professionals. The ubiquity of the ECG in clinical practice and an over reliance on computer assisted ECG interpretation are additionally explored as factors affecting acquisition and retention of this clinical skill.

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