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Automated ECG Interpretations May Result in Effective Triage

In absence of cardiologist, ECGs may expedite triage of acute coronary syndrome patients

MONDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Automated electrocardiogram (ECG) interpretation programs may provide effective triage of patients presenting with suspected acute coronary syndrome, according to a report published in the Dec. 15 issue of The American Journal of Cardiology.

Elaine N. Clark, of the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, and colleagues evaluated two automated ECG interpretation programs used in 912 cases of suspected acute coronary syndrome. Included in their study were the automated interpretations of prehospital digital LIFEPAK 12 ECGs, a reanalysis of these ECGs with a second automated system (the Glasgow program), triage decisions based on these ECGs made by a cardiologist, discharge diagnoses, biomarkers, and data from any primary percutaneous coronary interventions conducted. The researchers compared the automated ECG interpretations to each other as well as to cardiologists' triage decisions and to the final discharge diagnoses.

The researchers found that, compared to discharge diagnoses, the sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive values were, respectively, 78, 91, and 81 percent for the LIFEPAK 12; 78, 94, and 87 percent for the Glasgow program; and 85, 90, and 81 percent for the cardiologist.

"It could be argued that, if a cardiologist is not available, then an automated report provides a reliable indication for triage," the authors write.

Physio-Control Inc., the manufacturer of the LIFEPAK 12 monitor/defibrillator, provided support for the research.

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