The term “cardiac monitoring” refers to continuous monitoring of the heart done using probes placed on a patient’s skin. This process, known as electrocardiography, is painless and noninvasive. These monitors are useful in a variety of instances, especially if utilized while a patient is suffering from a heart attack. A cardiac monitor will emit a loud alarm if the patient’s heart rate drops too low, or soars too high. This alarm alerts the medical professionals, after which they attempt to stabilize the patient’s heart rate.
Prepare the Patient
While it is the physician who orders the test, it is actually the nurse who bears a large part of the responsibility in patient cardiac monitoring. The first duty of the nurse is to prepare the patient to receive the electrodes attached to the monitoring machine. The nurse must make sure that the area to which the electrodes are to attach is clean and free of hair. This responsibility may involve the washing and/or shaving of the patient.
The nurse affixes the electrodes to the patient. This is a crucial step—improper placement of the electrodes could lead to inaccurate results. As lives depend on these delicate machines, it is important that this is done correctly. There are specific areas of the skin on which electrodes must be placed in order to ensure accuracy. These locations include the right and left arms, right and left legs, as well as various locations along the rib cage.
The nurse is also responsible for observing the monitor, ensuring that it is adjusted correctly and reporting accurate results. The nurse cares for the patient while the monitor is engaged, intervening in case of an emergency. The nurse may also show the patient and her family how to use the monitor in their own home.