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J Emerg Nurs. 2012 Jan;38(1):9-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jen.2011.09.001. Epub 2011 Dec 3.

Prehospital electrocardiography: a review of the literature.

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  • 1Department of Physiological Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.



The American Heart Association and other scientific guidelines recommend emergency medical services acquire prehospital (PH) electrocardiography (ECG) in all patients with symptoms of acute coronary syndrome. The purpose of this article is to critically review the scientific literature about PH ECG.


Using multiple search terms, we searched the PubMed and Web of Science databases for relevant information. Search limiters were used: human, research (clinical trials, experimental), core journals, and adult. All articles about the clinical effects of PH ECG published between 2001 and 2011 were retained, in addition to a landmark study from 1997.


Our search yielded a total of 105 articles when all years of publication were considered. When the same search was limited to articles published between 2001 and 2011 for new and current data, 45 articles were returned. A total of 7 articles about the clinical effects of PH ECG were retained for this review. Articles were conceptualized and organized by clinical effects of PH ECG (timing, reperfusion rate, death, ejection fraction, reinfarction, and stroke). PH ECG has been associated with reduced PH delay time, increased use of reperfusion interventions, earlier diagnosis, and faster time to treatment.


PH ECG plays a major role in emergency cardiac systems of care and can facilitate early intervention by identifying patients with acute coronary syndrome sooner.

Copyright © 2012. Published by Mosby, Inc.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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