An Electrocardiogram (ECG) is one of the most common diagnostic tests that nurses will perform in the Emergency Department and can guide diagnosis and treatment of patients suspected of having cardiac abnormalities.

ED nurses are usually the first to assess patients and record an ECG.

Thus, it is essential that they understand and interpret ECG’s in order to recognise common arrhythmias and acute ECG changes. This skill is of great importance when deciding whether to take immediate action, or wait for expert consultation.

Interpretation of an ECG may seem intimidating, but be assured that this skill takes time to master. For nursing students new to ECG interpretation, it really is about having the confidence to practice.

A good knowledge base of cardiac anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology is necessary. By following a few simple steps, you can learn how to interpret basic cardiac rhythms.

Within this module you will find a variety of learning resources to guide you with the process of acquiring an ECG and interpretation.

Electrocardiogram (ECG) interpretation
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ECG Basics
Analyze each part of the ECG with detailed explanations and images.

LITFL ECG library
A free educational resource covering over 100 ECG topics relevant to Emergency Medicine and Critical Care.

EKG Interpretation – Introduction
This introductory course reviews the main features of electrocardiogram strips. A method for analyzing an electrocardiogram is presented.

Emergency medical skills courses

EKG Definition
An EKG, also called an ECG or electrocardiogram, is a recording of the heart’s electrical activity. It is a quick and painless procedure.

My top 10 tips for ECG interpretation
Confident interpretation of ECGs is fast becoming a dying art form. What’s more, it’s an art form that any good scientist can enjoy! ECGs are open to interpretation.

Nickasch, B. (2016). ‘What do I do next?’ Nurses’ confusion and uncertainty with ECG monitoring. MedSurg Nursing, 25(6), 418-422.