EKG Machines Are Not the Answer

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Sometimes ideas come through the correctional health care arena that seem just too good to be true. One of the latest trends is to offer EKG machines, which show the electrical activity of the heart, to help address health care needs on-site. While it is tempting to think that these machines are a cure-all, this is not the case.

Do EKG machines reduce off-sites?

No. EKG machines should not be relied upon to determine whether a patient should be taken off-site for further evaluation. Many patients will have small changes on their EKG that do not mean they need to be evaluated further in an ER; erroneous machine readings could increase off-sites in healthy patients. Having practitioners on-call who can consider the whole clinical picture to address and treat patients does, however, reduce off-sites.

Do EKG machines replace practitioners?

No. In fact, to properly interpret an EKG, a clinician must be experienced and certified in reading EKGs: nurses are not trained to read EKGs. At most hospitals, EKGs are reviewed by a heart specialist to confirm that the final interpretation is correct. Further, using the machine requires procedural knowledge, as one misplaced sticker on a patient can lead to an inaccurate reading and potentially life-threatening outcome.

Do EKG machines reduce risk? 

No. Risk is reduced when patients are given personalized treatment plans, not when a machine is relied upon to make clinical decisions. If a patient is high-risk for a heart issue, they will have multiple EKGs and multiple sets of blood draws while at the ER. Clinical knowledge and expertise, not a printout from machine, is what reduces risk.

Have more questions about EKG machines? Contact Training@sparktraining.us

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All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only. The information presented should be treated as guidelines, not rules. The information presented is not intended to establish a standard of medical care and is not a substitute for common sense. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current, and is subject to change without notice. Each situation should be addressed on a case-by-case basis.