Emergency Nurse Competence in Electrocardiographic Interpretation in Spain: A Cross-Sectional Study

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Electrocardiographic interpretation skills are key to provide a fast attention to patients with thoracic pain. The aim of the study was to determine the current level of competence in electrocardiographic interpretation of nurses in emergency departments.


Cross-sectional, multicenter study via an ad hoc questionnaire. Subjects were nurses from three Spanish emergency departments with at least a year experience in this area. A two-part questionnaire was created consisting of a professional profile, and 12 questions (2 theoretical questions and 10 questions on practical cases with electrocardiographic register [readout]). A pilot test was carried out to evaluate the validity of the questionnaire, the content validity index. The reliability of the questionnaire was also tested on a subsample through intraclass correlation coefficient with a value of 0.869 (CI 95% 0.712-0.941). Descriptive and bivariate analyses were conducted using an independent t-test or one-way ANOVA as appropriate. A statistical significance of P < .05 was assumed.


Fifty-seven usable questionnaires were obtained (47.2% response rate). Women comprised 84.2% of the sample and the mean age of the sample was 40.5 (SD = 9.3) years. Slightly more than 91% had taken electrocardiographic interpretation training courses, the main modality for which was face-to-face (84.2%). The average score on our questionnaire was 8.6 (SD=1.1) points. No significant differences between nursing experience and hospitals were observed. Nurses who had received training within the previous five years scored significantly higher than those who had not (P = .031).


The electrocardiographic knowledge of emergency nurses is high. Level of knowledge was not influenced by experience or hospital but was influenced by training when provided in the previous 5 years. Therefore, refreshing courses should be taken at least every 5 years.


Contribution to Emergency Nursing Practice:

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