Many well intentioned UK nurses contact me in despair that their managers will not support them giving their patients a copy of their 12 lead ecg prior to discharge, because there is no research available, even though it's a good idea. So here's an attempt to provide some data, and I welcome your input to help me supply the evidence of how widespread this practice is.
The National Service Framework document on Coronary Heart Disease shows this as a documented action prior to discharge (Ch. 3 page 50), and it makes sense to provide the patient with a copy of their ecg to carry with them at all times. It would be of use to any doctor, nurse or paramedic that comes into contact with the patient, they would know what was "normal" for that patient, they would know if the patient had a preexisting left bundle branch block etc.
I don't claim to be the originator of this idea, it first came to my attention some years ago from a group of nurses working in CCU at Grantham and District Hospital. Since then I've modified the idea; the ecg should be folded and placed in a credit card size plastic bag or wallet, which could contain other medical cards, and include two 300mg aspirin tablets - just in case.
For a supplier of the small plastic bags, I got mine from:
Express Polythene Ltd, 79 - 107 Barford Street, Birmingham, B5 6AH. Tel. 0121 622 2347 Fax. 0121 622 1179 email. Ask for the two and a half by five inch, 500 gauge bags, they cost ten pounds fifty seven pence for 1000 (April 2000).
You may be suprised by the reasons I've heard over the years put forward to obstruct this idea.
It's also worth mentioning that "knowledge is power", another reason why some people may oppose this practice ;-)
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