Eliminating Inappropriate Telemetry Monitoring: An Evidence-Based Implementation Guide

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Abstract

In-hospital continuous electrocardiographic monitoring, commonly referred to as telemetry, has allowed for rapid recognition of life-threatening conditions, including complex arrhythmias and myocardial ischemia. However, inappropriate use can lead to unnecessary downstream testing from “false alarms,” which in turn affects clinician efficiency and increases health care costs without benefiting patients. For these reasons, the Society of Hospital Medicine’s Choosing Wisely campaign recommended use of a protocol-driven discontinuation of telemetry. The American Heart Association (AHA) developed a set of Practice Standards for the appropriate use of telemetry monitoring in 2004, which they updated in 2017. Unfortunately, the AHA Practice Standards have not been widely adopted—with as many as 43% of monitored patients lacking a recommended indication for monitoring. Thus, we created an overview discussing the safety and efficacy of incorporating the AHA Practice Standards and a review of studies highlighting their successful incorporation within patient care workflow. We conclude by outlining an “implementation blueprint” for health system professionals and administrators seeking to change their institution’s culture of telemetry use. As the health care landscape continues to shift, enacting high-value initiatives that improve patient safety and efficiency of care will be critical.

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