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At the heart of general practice since 1960

ECG referrals vary

GPs vary 'widely' in their interpretation of ECGs and referral of patients for echocardiography, a study reports.

The researchers insisted most GP were capable of conducting initial heart failure screening with ECGs, but that the variation in referral rates would need to be considered by policymakers.

Only 57 per cent of GPs achieved a sensitivity of 90

per cent and a specificity of

50 per cent for the detection

of left ventricular systolic dysfunction.

Study leader Dr Barclay Goudie, senior clinical lecturer at the Tayside Centre for

General Practice in Dundee, said: 'Overall the screening

performance is satisfactory. But the quality of screening is

dependent on ECG reporting skill and varies between individual GPs.'

Dr Goudie suggested expanding access to BNP testing might achieve more uniform referral rates than using ECG.

Overall, sensitivity was 94 per cent and specificity 58 per cent, with a negative predictive value of 96 per cent, according to the study, published in the March issue of the British Journal of General Practice.

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