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

Breen, C.J.; Kelly, G.P.; Kernohan, W.G.


G.P. Kelly

W.G. Kernohan


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.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 14, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 12, 2019
Publication Date 2022-07
Deposit Date Nov 3, 2022
Journal Journal of Electrocardiology
Print ISSN 0022-0736
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 73
Pages 125-128
Keywords ECG, Pedagogy, Efficient learning, Patient safety
Public URL