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July 1969

Nonmedical Personnel and Continuous ECG Monitoring: Their Use on a General Medical Ward

Author Affiliations

Birmingham, Ala

From the Department of Medicine, Di-; vision of Cardiology, University of Alabama Medical Center, Birmingham.

Arch Intern Med. 1969;124(1):110-112. doi:10.1001/archinte.1969.00300170112021

Continuous electrocardiographic monitoring of patients having acute myocardial infarction is largely responsible for the reduction in mortality.1 Unfortunately, most communities have too few facilities to monitor all patients with acute cardiac infarction 2 let alone those with arrhythmias whose potentially lethal nature is less well recognized.

The development of a continuous ECG monitoring system on a general medical ward was necessary at the University Hospital because too few patients could be treated in the available coronary care unit. Since there were no nurses available to staff the program, college-age men were trained as monitoring technicians. This report describes the first 18 months of the system. We were surprised to find that more than three fourths of all those monitored and all of those successfully resuscitated were patients who did not have acute cardiac infarction.

Description of the Monitoring System  The system was designed so that the electrocardiograms from