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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994 Feb;148(2):184-8.

Use of the electrocardiogram in a pediatric emergency department.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore.



To ascertain the quality of electrocardiogram (ECG) use in a pediatric emergency department (PED).


Patient series.


Pediatric emergency department in a university-based hospital.


Seventy patients, aged 2 months to 22 years.


All ECGs obtained in the PED were received by the Division of Pediatric Cardiology during the 15-month study period. The charts of all patients were then reviewed to determine the (1) indications for obtaining an ECG; (2) accuracy of documentation; (3) impact of ECG results on the treatment of patients; and (4) concordance between PED and pediatric cardiologists in ECG interpretation.


Chest pain was the most commonly documented indication, accounting for 54% of the ECGs obtained. Other indications were suspected arrhythmias (11%), seizure and syncope (11%), drug exposure (8%), and miscellaneous (16%). Twelve charts (17%) lacked documentation of ECG results. Ten ECGs (14%) were performed improperly. Twenty three (32%) were interpreted differently by the pediatric cardiologists; 14 ECGs (20%) had potential clinical relevance. Thirty-seven (52%) ECGs were useful in patient care; this was significantly associated with the presence of a PED attending (P = .03 by Fisher's Exact Test).


We recommend education of pediatric residents in ECG interpretation and subsequent review by a pediatric cardiologist of each ECG performed in the PED.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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