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$3.9 Million Grant Pumps Up Heart Monitoring Study at Yale School of Nursing


New Haven, Conn. — A study to help nurses hone their heart-monitoring skills has received the largest grant in the history of the Yale School of Nursing — $3.9 million.

The funding from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health will enable Yale School of Nursing Professor Marjorie Funk, and co-investigator Barbara Drew of the University of California–San Francisco School of Nursing, to conduct a five-year, 16-hospital clinical trial. The study’s long-term goal is to improve nursing practices related to electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring so that more accurate diagnosis and more timely treatments lead to better outcomes for patients.

Funk and Drew will provide an interactive online ECG monitoring education program they developed for nurses; they will use nurse “champions” in the hospital units to reinforce what the nurses learn in the online program.

In hospitals, nurses are responsible for ECG monitoring. They position the ECG electrodes on the patient’s chest, determine the goals for monitoring a particular patient, assess diagnosis and risk factors, and select the display on the monitor. They also choose and evaluate alarm and ischemia monitoring options, administer antiarrhythmic drugs, and evaluate the effectiveness of treatment.

ECG technology has changed dramatically since its introduction on hospital units 45 years ago. Its uses have expanded from tracking heart rate and the basic heart rhythm, to the diagnosis of complex arrhythmias and the detection of a reduction in oxygen supply to the heart. Today, the technology allows access to a wealth of diagnostic information obtained in a non-invasive and inexpensive way, and it is used routinely in hospitals to guide clinical decision-making.

“Despite the advances in monitoring technology, the need for human oversight in the interpretation of ECG monitoring data remains crucially important,” Funk said. “Modern ECG monitoring equipment is complex and has the capacity to do so much that nurses often do not take full advantage of all the features.”

Errors and omissions can occur at any step in the ECG monitoring process. Funk stresses that nurses need to have sufficient knowledge to carry out all these responsibilities in a way that maximizes the quality of patient care and patient outcomes. “We expect that improved ECG monitoring will result in more accurate diagnosis and more timely treatment, which may lead to better outcomes for patients.” Funk added.

Yale University School of Nursing (YSN) enjoys an international reputation for excellence in teaching, research and clinical practice. One of Yale University’s professional schools, YSN is a leading school of nursing in the United States, with a diverse community of scholars and clinicians with a common goal: better health care for all people. More information on YSN may be found at


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