Ask the patient to recline on their back. ECG tests are always administered with the patient lying flat on their back. Not only does this position make it much easier to find the correct places to situate the ECG leads, but it also keeps the patient’s heart beating at its resting rate. If you’re in a doctor’s office, just have the patient lay back on an examination table.
- If you’re giving an ECG test in a patient’s home, ask them to recline on their bed or couch.
Gain verbal consent to the procedure from the patient. Explain that you’re about to place 10 leads on the patient’s body to electrically monitor their heartbeat. Clarify that the test will not hurt, but that the leads will need to remain in place on the skin for 3–5 minutes. Ask the patient to take a few deep breaths and completely relax.
- If the patient is female, they may feel more comfortable with a female doctor or nurse placing the ECG leads on their chest.
Clean the patient’s chest before you place the leads. If the patient’s skin is dirty or oily, clean it with soap and water and dry with a towel before applying the ECG leads. Dirt and oil can interfere with the electrical signals from the leads. They’ll also have a much harder time sticking onto a dirty chest. If a patient has chest hair where the leads should be placed, you’ll need to shave off the hair.
- It’s also a good idea to either wash your own hands or put on a pair of latex gloves before putting on the ECG leads.
- If you don’t have soap and water available, you can also use an alcohol cleaning pad to remove dirt and oil.