Nursing: Life Threatening ECG Rhythms: Recognition and Interpretation

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About the Course

Monitored patients and their primary care providers have an expectation that nurses working on monitor units will be competent in assessing the ECG rhythm and responding appropriately to changes in rate and rhythm.  This course serves as an overview of rhythms that may be life-threatening, either immediately or over the longer term for health care providers who have an understanding of cardiac structure, function, the basic features of the most common cardiac rhythms, and basic patient assessment skills.  The course reviews many life-threatening dysrhythmias and the appropriate initial nursing interventions for each. Confidence in ECG rhythm interpretation skills will help you communicate accurately with other members of the health care team and provide excellent patient care.

Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of this course, the learner will be able to:
  • Describe features of dysrhythmias that make them dangerous or potentially dangerous.
  • Accurately recognize potentially life-threatening dysrhythmias.
  • Describe appropriate nursing interventions for patients with life-threatening dysrhythmias.
  • Recognize and describe appropriate nursing interventions for the patient with early hyperkalemia, suspected acute myocardial infarction, tricyclic antidepressant overdose, and increased intracranial pressure.
  • List ways nurses can be better prepared to respond to cardiac dysrhythmia emergencies.

About the Author:
Dawn Altman, RN

Dawn Altman, RN, 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. Ms. Altman 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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