Utility of the CORD ECG Database in Evaluating ECG Interpretation by Emergency Medicine Residents
OBJECTIVES: Electrocardiograph (ECG) interpretation is a vital component of Emergency Medicine (EM) resident education, but few studies have formally examined ECG teaching methods used in residency training. Recently, the Council of EM Residency Directors (CORD) developed an Internet database of 395 ECGs that have been extensively peer-reviewed to incorporate all findings and abnormalities. We examined the efficacy of this database in assessing EM residents' skills in ECG interpretation. METHODS: We used the CORD ECG database to evaluate residents at our academic three-year EM residency. Thirteen residents participated, including four first-year, four second-year, and five third-year residents. Twenty ECGs were selected using 14 search criteria representing a broad range of abnormalities, including infarction, rhythm, and conduction abnormalities. Exams were scored based on all abnormalities and findings listed in the teaching points accompanying each ECG. We assigned points to each abnormal finding based on clinical relevance. RESULTS: Out of a total of 183 points in our clinically weighted scoring system, first-year residents scored an average of 99 points (54.1%) [9 1- 1191, second-year residents 11 1 points (60.4%) [97-1261, and third-year residents 130 points (7 1.0%) [94- 1501, p = 0.12. Clinically relevant abnormalities, including anterior and inferior myocardial infarctions, were most frequently diagnosed correctly, while posterior infarction was more frequently missed. Rhythm abnormalities including ventricular and supraventricular tachycardias were most frequently diagnosed correctly, while conduction abnormalities including left bundle branch block and atrioventricular (AV) block were more frequently missed. CONCLUSION: The CORD database represents a valuable resource in the assessment and teaching of ECG skills, allowing more precise identification of areas upon which instruction should be further focused or individually tailored. Our experience suggests that more focused teaching of conduction abnormalities and posterior infarctions may be beneficial. The CORD database should be considered for incorporation into an ECG curriculum during residency training.