Interpretations of and management actions following ECGs in programmatic cardiovascular care in primary care: A retrospective dossier study

N Van den Nieuwenhof, R T A Willemsen*, K T S Konings, H E J H Stoffers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Background The usefulness of routine electrocardiograms (ECGs) in cardiovascular risk management (CVRM) and diabetes care is doubted. Objectives To assess the performance of general practitioners (GPs) in embedding ECGs in CVRM and diabetes care. Methods We collected 852 ECGs recorded by 20 GPs (12 practices) in the context of CVRM and diabetes care. Of all abnormal (nx202f;= 265) and a sample of the normal (nx202f;= 35) ECGs, data on the indications, interpretations and management actions were extracted from the corresponding medical records. An expert panel consisting of one cardiologist and one expert GP reviewed these 300 ECG cases. Results GPs found new abnormalities in 13.0% of all 852 ECGs (12.0% in routinely recorded ECGs versus 24.3% in ECGs performed for a specific indication). Management actions followed more often after ECGs performed for specific indications (17.6%) than after routine ECGs (6.0%). The expert panel agreed with the GPs' interpretations in 67% of the 300 assessed cases. Most often misinterpreted relevant ECG abnormalities were previous myocardial infarction, R-wave abnormalities and typical/atypical ST-segment and T-wave (ST-T) abnormalities. Agreement on patient management between GP and expert panel was 74%. Disagreement in most cases concerned additional diagnostic testing. Conclusions In the context of programmatic CVRM and diabetes care by GPs, the yield of newly found ECG abnormalities is modest. It is higher for ECGs recorded for a specific reason. Educating GPs seems necessary in this field since they perform less well in interpreting and managing CVRM ECGs than in ECGs performed in symptomatic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-201
Number of pages10
JournalNetherlands Heart Journal
Volume28
Issue number4
Early online date19 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

Keywords

  • ACC/AHA COMMITTEE
  • ACCURACY
  • AMBULATORY ELECTROCARDIOGRAPHY
  • ASIM TASK-FORCE
  • CARDIAC DISORDERS
  • CLINICAL COMPETENCE STATEMENT
  • CORONARY-HEART-DISEASE
  • Clinical competence
  • DEVELOP
  • Electrocardiography
  • General practice
  • Preventive health services
  • Quality of health care
  • RESIDENTS
  • Retrospective studies

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