Indiana Recognition and Interpretation of Basic ECG Rhythms


About the Course

Audience: Nurses who care for patients being monitored for ECG rate and rhythm will benefit from this course. Monitored patients and their primary care providers expect nurses working on monitor units to be competent in assessing the ECG rhythm and responding appropriately to changes in rate and rhythm. This course serves as an overview of the most common rhythms. It is intended for health care providers who have an understanding of cardiac structure and function, the basic features of the cardiac cycle, and ECG waveforms. Nurses, monitor technicians, and other health care professionals will also benefit from this course. 

Course overview: Recognition and Interpretation of Basic ECG Rhythms is an overview of normal ECG rhythms and the most common dysrhythmias. It is designed for nurses and other health care professionals who have basic knowledge of the cardiac conduction system and ECG waveforms. This course provides criteria for identifying rhythms and sample strips. The course discusses the effects the rhythms have on patients, as well as recommended nursing interventions. You will gain confidence in your monitor strip interpretation skills and in your ability to react appropriately to dysrhythmias. 

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the information obtainable from the electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor.
  • Discuss the nurse's role in rhythm monitoring.
  • Describe the ECG criteria for the sinus rhythms.
  • Explain the basic function of ECG leads as viewpoints.
  • Obtain a quality rhythm strip free of artifact.
  • Explain the mechanism of ectopy, including escape and prematurity.
  • Describe the ECG criteria for dysrhythmias initiated in the atria.
  • Describe the ECG criteria for dysrhythmias initiated in the junction.
  • Describe the ECG criteria for dysrhythmias initiated in the ventricles.
  • Discuss the mechanisms of AV block.
  • Recognize a paced rhythm.
  •  Explain what actions should be taken when pacemaker malfunction is suspected.
  • Use a systematic process for interpreting ECG strips.
  • Confidently implement appropriate nursing interventions based on accurate identification of common dysrhythmias.

About the Author

Dawn Altman, RN

Dawn Altman has been teaching ECG interpretation to health care providers for over 35 years. After a long career as an emergency department nurse and paramedic clinical instructor, she worked in a large full-service cardiac hospital. Dawn is an accomplished instructor who teaches basic ECG interpretation as well as more advanced 12-lead ECG interpretation. In 1986, she authored an ECG textbook (under the name Dawn Bean). She now administers a website designed to provide free teaching materials for other ECG instructors.

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