telemetry training

Categories: Telemetry Nursing

Did you know that about 610,000 Americans die of heart disease every year? That’s one of every four deaths.

Many conditions contribute to patients suffering from cardiovascular events. Telemetry monitors cardiac rhythms, respiratory rate, and oxygen levels. This allows medical personnel to respond as soon as changes occur.

Technology continues to evolve and improve monitoring capabilities. Hospitals need nurses with telemetry training to work in high-level monitoring areas. You can find training via several routes.

Keep reading to learn more about where to go for training and key points to increase your skillset.

What Is Telemetry Monitoring?

The advent of telemetry monitoring gave patients increased freedom of movement. Before telemetry technology, patients were directly connected to monitors located at the beside. This restricted their movement in the room and even to the bathroom.

Now, patients wear a portable telemetry pack that can fit in the pocket of their hospital gown. This technology provides the medical staff with continuous information about the patient.

Monitored parameters include the heart rate and rhythm, respiratory rate, and oxygen level. Nurses and other medical personnel are present to care for and check the patient as well.

The ability to move about increases the patient’s independence. Mobility is an important part of most healthcare plans.

This can also provide diagnostic information. For example, the staff can identify the patient’s activity when an abnormality occurs.

Telemetry accuracy requires proper skin preparation, electrode, and lead placement, and maintenance of equipment. Patients must also understand the rationale for telemetry monitoring. This decreases the patient’s anxiety about wearing the device.

Continuous monitoring allows immediate response to changes in the patient’s condition. Thus, potentially decreasing the risk of complications.

Indications for Telemetry Monitoring

Telemetry provides an important tool for patients who meet certain criteria. Indications include monitoring of patients:

  • With non-life-threatening cardia dysrhythmias who are hemodynamically stable
  • Following electrophysiology studies and catheter ablation
  • Diagnosed with stable cardiomyopathy, pericarditis, endocarditis, or pericardial effusion
  • With sinus bradycardia who are hemodynamically stable
  • Who have received medications that may cause actual or potential QT prolongation or ventricular dysrhythmias
  • Following an unexplained syncopal episode or other undiagnosed neurological changes

Monitoring continues until the physician makes a diagnosis and the patient becomes stable.

What Does a Telemetry Training Program Include?

Nurses and medical personnel have several avenues for learning to perform telemetry monitoring. Examples include in-hospital education programs, medical training programs, and online.

Online courses often provide study guides, reference materials, and practice tests. The Nurse/Physician/PA Anatomy and Physiology Exam and the Telemetry Review Course are two examples of learning guides.

After completing a training program, there is a final exam to become certified. The exam consists of 303 questions that must be completed within 180 minutes. To pass the exam, you must receive a score of at least 85 percent.

Tips for Learning Telemetry Monitoring

Interpretation of electrocardiograms (ECGs) requires knowledge of the heart's anatomy and physiology. The heart muscle responds to electrical impulses that travel in a regular pattern. An ECG monitor interprets and displays this pattern as waves.

Electrodes placed in specific locations on the patient’s chest relay the electrical conduction to the ECG monitor. When the electrical impulse is moving away from the electrode, the wave goes down. When the impulse travels toward the lead, it goes up.

Segments describe certain parts of the wave pattern. Intervals describe various measures taken between the start and stop of various waves. ECG interpretation follows several steps:

Identify If the Rhythm Is Regular

The QRS segment represents the electrical charging of the cells in the heart’s two ventricles. The R wave is the tallest spike normally seen during each heartbeat. By measuring the interval between R waves on a six-second strip, you can determine if the rhythm is regular.

Measure the Vital Signs

Some telemetry units record the patient’s peripheral capillary oxygen saturation (Sp02), respiratory rate, and pulse.

However, it’s important to assess the patient and not rely on the machines. Check the patient’s radial pulse and observe respirations to ensure that perfusion and oxygenation are within normal. Calculate the pulse via a six-second ECG strip by counting the number of R waves multiplying by 10.

Assess the P Waves

The P wave represents the electrical charging of the cells in the heart’s two atria. Normally, this will be the upward wave that comes before the QRS. A normal P wave represents the normal firing of the sinoatrial (SA) node.

Measure the PR Interval

This represents the time it takes for the electrical impulse to travel from the SA node to the atrioventricular (AV) node. This node is located in the upper ventricles.

Measure the QRS Segment

The QRS segment tells you how long it takes for the electrical impulse to travel through the ventricles.

Examine the T Wave

The T wave represents the recovery of the ventricles from the electrical charge that occurs during the QRS. T waves provide a great amount of information. They can represent decreased oxygen levels in the heart, potassium levels, and heart damage.

Watch for Ectopic (Abnormal) Beats

When part of the heart receives an electrical impulse at the wrong time, ectopic beats occur. This means that part of the heartbeats too soon. The ECG can help determine if the early beat is from the atria or the ventricles.

After mastering these skills, the ECG rhythm will give you a picture of what's happening in the heart. It’s imperative, though, that you assess and treat the patient and not the machinery.

Do You Want to Work on a Telemetry Unit?

Are you interested in working with patients on cardiac monitors? If so, you will need to have training and experience in using telemetry monitors. This skill requires training and practice for mastery.

Nurses and medical personnel can now complete international accreditations in telemetry monitoring. Having telemetry training on your resume can set you apart from other applicants. This demonstrates professional initiative and competence.

Contact us today to ask questions and learn more about our programs.

Test Your Telemetry Knowledge

Download 10 free sample questions straight from the official National Telemetry Association practice exam to get a head start on your certification prep!