Arrhythmia detection and response in a monitoring technician and pocket paging system

Prog Cardiovasc Nurs. Winter 1998;13(1):16-22, 33.


Technologically advanced telemetry systems have begun to produce alternatives to the need for continuous visual observation of the electrocardiogram (ECG). Few studies have been conducted to determine the efficacy of these systems in the clinical setting. The purpose of this study was to describe two different approaches to communication of arrhythmia events and corresponding nurse response. One approach, on a cardiac medical unit, utilized a monitoring technician to continuously observe ECGs at a central monitoring technician station (MTS) and notify the nurse of changes. The other approach, on a general medical unit, eliminated the use of the monitoring technician and utilized a pocket paging system (PPS). The PPS interfaced with the computerized arrhythmia detection system from the ECG monitor, which directly alerted the nurse to arrhythmia events. A quasi-experimental comparative post-test design was used. The sample consisted of 50 randomly selected, 2-hour observation periods on each unit during a 3-month period. Data collectors recorded the interaction of the monitoring technician with the arrhythmia detection system and the nurse on the MTS unit, or the nurse using the PPS. Results of this study revealed all arrhythmia events activated an alarm by the computerized arrhythmia detection system. Length of time to notify the nurse was within 0 to 1 minute for both systems. This study demonstrated that the PPS is a viable approach to arrhythmia detection and communication in the medical/cardiac patient population.

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / nursing*
  • Electrocardiography / methods*
  • Humans
  • Medical Laboratory Science*
  • Telemetry / methods*
  • Time Factors