BACKGROUND: Temporary pacing leads with electrodes are a potential risk, because microshock inadvertently transmitted across the catheter or wire can paradoxically cause lethal dysrhythmias. Much attention has been paid to this complication in clinical guidelines, but little is known about actual practices used to protect patients. OBJECTIVES: A national survey was done to describe current practices related to the care of patients with temporary epicardial or transvenous pacing catheters. The survey focused on environmental factors that affect generation of static electricity, equipment used with temporary pacing, and nursing practices used when handling temporary pacing electrodes. METHODS: The Pacemaker Electrical Care and Safety Survey was developed, validated, and pilot tested before it was mailed to all 895 hospitals that perform cardiac surgery. Surveys were sent to the coronary care unit, cardiac surgical ICU, and telemetry units of each hospital. RESULTS: Responses were received from 476 units representing 388 (43%) of the 895 institutions. Most respondents reported using gloves, although few hospitals had policies mandating this practice. The insulating materials used most often, in order, were a glove or finger cot, tape, and gauze. Few units (25%) use any measure to reduce static electricity generated by movement over carpeting. Little attention was paid to insulating exposed epicardial temporary pacing electrodes at the generator. CONCLUSIONS: Temporary pacing electrodes were usually handled in an electrically safe manner; however, little attention was paid to environmental sources of microshock or connections between the generator and the cable. Although the respondents reported using a variety of insulating materials, the ideal cover for the exposed tips of the electrodes has not yet been determined.

You do not currently have access to this content.