The Barbados National Registry (BNR) has come in for praise for its decision to train paramedical staff in the use of the electrocardiogram (ECG).

Describing this as important training for the medical team, Director of Medical Services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Dr. Delores Lewis, told a workshop today at the BNR’s Jemmotts Lane headquarters the Registry should be congratulated for recognising, through their surveillance programme on acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in Barbados, the need for proper training of paramedical personnel.

The course facilitates the understanding and interpreting of ECGs and the correct documentation procedures for clinical recording of ECG results.

"The training workshop represents an excellent opportunity for the clinical staff to enhance their skills in the area of ECG recognition and documentation in AMI events, so as to increase the local capacity in the use of international best practices for clinical diagnosis and documentation of myocardial infarction," Dr. Lewis said.

Acknowledging that the sessions would go a long way towards improving the skills of participants, she added that it would "in turn assist the BNR in its effort to acquire more accurate and detailed surveillance information on AMIs in Barbados".

Meanwhile, Medical Consultant for the Emergency Ambulance Service and the Accident and Emergency Department, Dr. David Byer, disclosed: "What we are trying to do is to widen the umbrella so that the nurses and the paramedical EMTs have a better understanding of what ECG is about and the identification of acute coronary disease."

He explained, however, that while it was the first in a series of workshops, the nurses and paramedics were already trained in basic life support and advanced cardiac life support and so it "tied in to the whole spectrum of cardiac courses".

Queried about the equipment needs to complement the course, Dr. Byer indicated that: "One of the things that we are embarking on is [to see] that most of our new monitors for patients with cardiac disease will have the ECG capability. So it will be a situation where we can have an ECG and it fails and pre-alerts the hospital that an emergency case will be coming [in] within a determined time. And, also within the Accidents & Emergency Department and all the wards, they usually prefer ECG machines in terms of identifying acute cardiac disease."

The senior medical official also pointed out that the ECGs and the monitors were the first step in acute care and that all ambulances are equipped with defibrillators to be therapeutic if there is a bad cardiac or rhythm cardiac arrest.?? He added that in most sections of the hospital, especially in the Emergency Department and in other areas where there are critically ill patients there is defibrillator capacity.??

Acute myocardial infarction is also commonly known as a heart attack and the electrocardiogram is a diagnostic tool that measures and records the electrical activity of the heart??in exquisite detail. Interpretation of these details allows diagnosis of a wide range of heart conditions that can vary from minor to life threatening events.

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