The Danger of Artifact 12 Lead EKG
Staff Education proved to be the key during this two year study. Quality improved over all by 15%.
Artifact is incidental electrical activity and is caused by a flaw or problem in the process. There are multiple causes of artifact and practically all of them are avoidable. When there is artifact present in a 12 Lead EKG, the physician interpreting the EKG will not have a clear picture and correct interpretation maybe difficult at best. In troubleshooting this complication, determine if the problem lies in the equipment or the patient. Always check the patient first, then the equipment.
Examples of different artifacts that need to be avoided on the 12 Lead EKG include:
Tremor artifact or muscle noise
60 – cycle interference
Chaotic tracing caused by poor electrode contact
Artifact as a wandering baseline
Loss of signal resulting from electrode detachment or possibly a broken wire,
Please know there are times when artifact cannot be eliminated completely.
Examples of this situation include:
Involuntary muscle tremors
The following 12 Lead EKGs are examples of unacceptable tracings.
Artifact reflects poor quality, prevents the cardiologist from accurately interpreting the electrocardiogram, possibly delaying treatment for the patient. When poor quality occurs, the EKG will have to be repeated, wasting time and costing more money.