J Korean Soc Emerg Med.  2000 Mar;11(1):11-18.

The Assessment of Electrocardiogram Interpretation by Emergency Physicians at the Emergency Department

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The emergency physician(EP)'s interpretation of the electrocardiogram(ECG) is important in determining the disposition of patients evaluated in an emergency department(ED) for chest pain o other cardiac complaints. This particularly important in life-threatening ECG findings. When the cardiologist's final interpretation was defined as the correct one, the concordance compared with the EP was reported to be 50-60%, while the missed diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction(AMI) was reported as 0.6-8.0%, which could be deleterious to the patient. METHOD AND MATERIAL : One hundred and twenty eight ECGs were interpreted by two residents from each year residency. ED records of the study patients were reviewed, and the EP's and cardiologist's ECG interpretations were compared. The ECGs were classified by severity according to the following system: class I, normal or minor abnormalities only; class II, abnormalities with potential to alter case management; and class III, potentially life-threatening abnormalities.
RESULTS
The overall concordance between EP's and cardiologist's ECG interpretations was 59.3% and the concordance comparing each year residency showed no statistical significant difference (p value less than 0.05). The underdiagnosed rate was 48.4%, 32.0%, 23.4%, 22.7% for first, second, third and fourth year residency respectively, and 2.3%, 5.5%, 10.9%, 5.5% respectively for the overdiagnosed rate.
CONCLUSION
Although the overall concordance showed a relatively high result in our study, the concordance of class III ECG resulted a much lower rate. Therefore, additional studies are needed to identify variables that contribute to ED ECG misinterpretation and to develop methods to resolve these difficulties. Assessment of department ECG misinterpretation would be useful in focusing on resident and staff education.


MeSH Terms

Case Management
Chest Pain
Diagnosis
Education
Electrocardiography*
Emergencies*
Emergency Service, Hospital*
Humans
Internship and Residency
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