Improving Hospital Telemetry Usage


Hospitalists often rely on inpatient telemetry monitoring to identify arrhythmias, ischemia, and QT prolongation, but research has shown that its inappropriate usage increases costs to the healthcare system. An abstract presented at the 2016 meeting of the Society of Hospital Medicine looked at one hospital’s telemetry usage and how it might be improved.

Image credit: Shuttershock.com

Image credit: Shuttershock.com

The study revolved around a progress note template the authors developed, which incorporated documentation for telemetry use indications and need for telemetry continuation on non-ICU internal medicine services. The authors also provided an educational session describing American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) telemetry use guidelines for internal medicine residents with a pretest and posttest.

Application of ACA/AHA guidelines was assessed with five scenarios before and after instruction on the guidelines. On pretest, only 29% of trainees answered all five questions correctly; on posttest, 63% did. A comparison between charts of admitted patients with telemetry orders from 2015 with charts from 2013 indicated that the appropriate initiation of telemetry improved significantly as did telemetry documentation. Inappropriate continuation rates were cut in half.

The success of the study suggests further work.

“We plan expansion of telemetry utilization education to internal medicine faculty and nursing to encourage daily review of telemetry usage,” the authors write. “We are also working to develop telemetry orders that end during standard work hours to prevent inadvertent continuation by overnight providers.”


1. Kuehn C, Steyers CM III, Glenn K, Fang M. Resident-based telemetry utilization innovations lead to improved outcomes [abstract]. J Hosp Med. 2016;11(suppl 1). Accessed October 17, 2016.

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