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

sensus on how competence should be achieved, documented or even defined.

A physician who wants to specialize in cardiology must pass electrocardiographic interpretation as part of the initial certifying process; failure of the ECG section means failure of the entire exam. However, physicians who will practice general internal medicine do not have to pass an ECG interpretation section in order to pass their board examination, according to Dr. Benitez.

General practitioners are often the first to detect a person with an underlying cardiac disease during a general screening evaluation. "They need to correctly identify and diagnose problems that can significantly and imminently affect the health of their patients," says Dr. Benitez.

The New ECG Training Program

The Web-based computer module, called ACCIS (American College of Cardiology In-Service), includes both an assessment section and a "Teaching Materials" section. The test-taker is presented with 50 electrocardiograms that focus on 12 key categories of ECG interpretation. Test-takers and training program directors receive the test results. In the case of an incorrect diagnosis, the test-taker is referred to more than 100 case studies with additional teaching materials for self-directed learning. The results will be followed over time to determine if the training program actually improves ECG knowledge and will be used to set benchmarks of competency in ECG interpretation.

ECG Background

An electrocardiogram shows the heart's electrical activity. An ECG can indicate heartbeat irregularities and pinpoint heart muscle abnormalities. There are 120 codes used to define events detected through 12 leads attached to the chest. Doctors in internal medicine are expected to learn how to read the ECG to identify a potential heart problem; cardiologists are expected to be experts at ECG readings, pinpointing specific or rare problems.

"A lot of memor
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Contact: Bill Seiler
bseiler@umm.edu
410-328-8919
University of Maryland Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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