A recent national survey of critical care nurses reveals that the leads many nurses select to monitor their patients are diagnostically inferior to other available leads, and that lead placement often is inaccurate. This article reviews the best leads for electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring, illustrates their accurate placement, and explains reasons for the dilemma in current practice. Questions relevant to practicing nurses are addressed, including 1) Is lead MCL1 as good as V1? 2) When is it appropriate to substitute lead MCL1 for V1? and 3) How important is it for electrodes to be placed exactly in specific anatomic locations? Finally, a case study is provided to illustrate how accurate monitoring can prevent misdiagnosis and resultant inappropriate therapy

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