Monday, November 5, 2012
ECG Computers Are Not Infallible
The ECG above however is so egregiously off that I felt compelled to use it as Example A as to why we shouldn't rely on machines to do our readings for us and make clinical judgements based on them. As you can see, the computer read this ECG as "Sinus tachycardia with 2nd degree A-V block with 2:1 A-V conduction". That would be a pretty impressive ECG, almost like the kind they use to test us during ACLS. But even a cursory glance shows how off base the reading is. First of all, it's nowhere near being sinus tachycardia. As the printout shows a little to the left, the heart rate is only 61 beats per minutes. Then of course there is no evidence of a 2nd degree A-V block. These are all just overzealous interpretations made by the ECG computer. That is why an actual human interpretation is still essential in making clinical judgements in medicine. Even if it's just a disgruntled cardiologist making $20 for using his years of training and expertise to provide this critical life saving service.