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Can your doctor correctly read a critical heart test?
Date:10/30/2008

You have a burning chest pain and a doctor looks at a squiggly-lined graph to determine the cause. That graph, an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), can help the doctor decide whether you're having a heart attack or an acid attack from last night's spaghetti. Correct interpretation may prompt life-saving, emergency measures; incorrect interpretation may delay care with life-threatening consequences. Currently, there is no uniform way to teach doctors in training how to interpret an ECG or assess their competence in the interpretation.

To address the lack of uniformity, a team of physicians from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the American College of Cardiology has developed the first Web-based training and examination program for reading ECGs. It is an interactive computer program to teach and assess the competence of doctors in training. Details of the new tool will be revealed on October 31, 2008, during the annual meeting of the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine, in Orlando.

"We hope this tool helps increase expertise among general practitioners in the interpretation of a very commonly used screening test that's part of nearly every adult examination," says team leader R. Michael Benitez, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and director of the Cardiovascular Fellowship Training Program. "There is no mechanism now for establishing competency among internists or family physicians or for an interim analysis of how a trainee is performing," says Dr. Benitez, who is also a cardiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Two major medical accrediting bodies, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's Residency Review Committee for Internal Medicine and the American College of Physicians, recognize the importance of establishing competent ECG interpretation during Internal Medicine residency. But there is no con
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Contact: Bill Seiler
bseiler@umm.edu
410-328-8919
University of Maryland Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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