Electrocardiograph interpretation by junior doctors

Arch Emerg Med. 1990 Jun;7(2):108-10. doi: 10.1136/emj.7.2.108.


The object of this study was to assess the ability of junior doctors in the accident and emergency department to detect electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities. The ECG's performed in this department were monitored over a 4 week period. The initial diagnosis by the accident and emergency doctor was compared with the report from the cardiologist on 126 ECG's which showed abnormalities. The error rate was 19.8%. Of those abnormalities which were graded as clinically significant only 2 (4.4%) were missed. The danger of missing acute changes is emphasized and proposals discussed which may reduce their frequency.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Heart Diseases / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / standards*