Lack of utility of telemetry monitoring for identification of cardiac death and life-threatening ventricular dysrhythmias in low-risk patients with chest pain

Ann Emerg Med. 2004 Jan;43(1):71-6. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(03)00719-4.


Study objective: Low-risk patients with chest pain are often admitted to monitored beds; however, the use of telemetry beds in this cohort is not evidence based. We tested the hypothesis that monitoring admitted low-risk patients with chest pain for dysrhythmia is low yield (<1% detection of life-threatening dysrhythmias requiring treatment).

Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study of emergency department (ED) patients with chest pain with a Goldman risk score of less than 8%, a normal initial creatine kinase-MB level, and a negative initial troponin I level admitted to non-ICU monitored beds. Investigators followed the hospital course daily. The main outcome was cardiovascular death and life-threatening ventricular dysrhythmia during telemetry.

Results: Of 3,681 patients with chest pain who presented to the ED, 1,750 patients were admitted to non-ICU monitored beds. Of these, 1,029 patients had a Goldman risk score of less than 8%, a troponin I level of less than 0.3 ng/mL, and a creatine kinase-MB level of less than 5 ng/mL (accounting for 59% of all chest pain telemetry admissions). During hospitalization, there were no patients with sustained ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation requiring treatment on the telemetry service (0%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0% to 0.3%). There were 2 deaths: neither was cardiovascular in nature or preventable by monitoring (cardiovascular preventable death rate=0%; 95% CI 0.0% to 0.3%).

Conclusion: The routine use of telemetry monitoring for low-risk patients with chest pain is of limited utility. Admission to nonmonitored beds might help alleviate ED crowding without increasing risk of adverse events caused by dysrhythmia in patients with a Goldman risk of less than 8%, an initial troponin I level of less than 0.3 ng/mL, and a creatine kinase-MB level of less than 5 ng/mL.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / blood
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis*
  • Beds
  • Cause of Death
  • Chest Pain / blood
  • Chest Pain / diagnosis*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronary Disease / blood
  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Disease / mortality
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Creatine Kinase, MB Form
  • Death*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Telemetry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Troponin I / blood
  • Ventricular Dysfunction / blood
  • Ventricular Dysfunction / diagnosis*


  • Isoenzymes
  • Troponin I
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Creatine Kinase, MB Form