What Are the Best Tips for EKG Interpretation?

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  • Written By: Erik J.J. Goserud
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 08 August 2019
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An electrocardiogram, also referred to as an EKG or ECG, is a test that gives information about the electrical conductivity of the heart. This test is very useful in the medical world and can project findings that are very specific to potential heart problems. EKG interpretation is obviously very important for these reasons and should only be done by a skilled individual in the field. The best technicians follow specific protocols, are very consistent in how they read the results, and most often work with a partner.

There are certain tips for EKG interpretation that ensure the greatest accuracy during a reading. One of these tips is to be very systematic when reading an EKG. Developing a repeatable method can do great things, the most important being the prevention of mistakes. A mistake in EKG interpretation can lead to misdiagnosis, which is a precursor for mistreatment. Mistreatment of the heart can have varying degrees of effects, with some even lethal.

EKGs are typically printed out on graph paper, which is generally universal. There are different amounts of leads available, which refers to the number of electrodes used to pick up different electrical measurements. EKGs of different lead amounts should be interpreted differently, so being sure the right type of lead is being read is a very important tip.


There are basically six different categories of information to be garnered from a successful EKG. EKG interpretation should include a thorough examination of each category, although the order in which a person interprets a test is up to individual choice. The best tip is just to be consistent as changing the typical order may lead to mistakes.

Among these six categories are rhythm analysis, waveform analysis, and conductivity information. Also typically included are standard wave measurements, overall diagnoses, and comparison to any past tests. Each of these categories requires a clinical protocol of EKG interpretation.

Generally, many courses are needed before a person becomes capable of reading or interpreting an EKG. Most medical, physician assistant, or nursing programs include extensive work in cardiac testing. There may also be a specific program or class that can teach students of other disciplines how to interpret an EKG.

EKG interpretation should also be done with a partner. This helps fortify the findings, which also can keep mistakes from occurring. A person washing the dishes or feeding the dogs can afford to mess up from time to time, but the margin for error in EKG interpretation is not as lenient. This makes following protocol that much more important.


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