ECG Electrodes: Use on Resuscitation Carts
User Experience Network™ [Health Devices Feb 1993;22(2):97-8]
Our hospital is currently using pregelled electrodes in packages of 25 for
resuscitation carts. The electrodes are placed on the electrode leads and left there until
needed for a code. We have had occasional problems with noisy ECG signals during codes. We
are concerned that the electrodes may be drying out, but the nurses insist on having
electrodes preattached to reduce delay and to reduce costs compared with using electrodes
packaged in threes or fives. What does ECRI recommend?
It is essential that medical devices, including ECG electrodes, function
properly and not hamper resuscitation efforts in life-and-death situations. Leaving the
electrodes attached to the leads may result in drying, which would cause delays as the
staff attempts to obtain an adequate trace, assesses the ECG with a poor-quality trace, or
replaces the electrodes. Furthermore, electrodes removed from the bag may also have dried
out, resulting in further delays while new electrodes are sought.
To reduce steps and increase response speed, you can obtain the initial
ECG through the paddles; the patient can then be defibrillated, if needed, and the
electrodes can be applied later.
If the current practice is continued, then electrodes must be replaced
within their expected lifetime. You would also need to ensure that they are replaced on
The increased cost of using electrodes prepackaged in threes or fives will
not be significant for such a low-use application. Taking into account the need to
frequently replace dried-out electrodes, buying packages of 25 may not even offer any cost
savings. In any case, the speed in obtaining the waveform and the quality of the waveform
are much more important than cost issues.
Electrodes, Electrocardiographic [11-439]
Cause of Device-Related
Device factor: Device failure
User error: Abuse of device
Support system failure: Improper storage
Mechanism of Injury or
Misdiagnosis; Monitoring failure