ECG electrodes. Cost Vs Convenience and time.

For many customers price is the only focus when purchasing electrodes for resting 12 lead ECG’s. It’s undoubtedly an important factor but should it be the only criteria considered when purchasing? 

In 2019 The Royal Papworth Hospital under took a trial to compare the cost effectiveness of two different brands of ECG electrodes. Ambu and a Brand Competitor.

Comparison was made between quality of ECG trace, time taken to carry out the ECG procedure, electrode attachment and patient comfort.

During the trial electrodes were placed on patients according to clinical guidelines for a 12 lead ECG recording.

Before the electrodes were applied, if needed, skin preparation was performed to obtain a better electrode-skin contact. The patient’s skin was shaved and cleaned with alcohol wipes and wiped by a gauze swab before the electrodes were placed to obtain an artefact-free ECG.

All filters on the ECG monitor were ‘off’ when recording an ECG. To minimize any noise, all forms of electronic devices that may cause interference were also switched off and patients were advised and encouraged to relax as much as possible to reduce muscle artifact.

Participants were assigned to two groups either using AMBU BlueSensor SU ECG electrodes or Skintact Easitab Resting ECG electrodes (competitor).

The average time it took to take an ECG using the Ambu electrodes was 3.39 minutes. The average time using the competitor Brand was 6.53 minutes. The time includes the preparation of the patient’s skin, shaving where necessary.

When using the Brand Competitor 7 razors were used, none were used with the Ambu electrodes.

The use of wipes and gauze was eight times higher for patients being monitored with the competitor electrodes and 28 additional competitor electrodes were used in comparison with five of the Ambu electrodes.

The average price (including wipes, razors, skin preparations and extra electrodes) of taking an ECG using the competitor electrodes was 57 pence compared to 54 pence using the Ambu electrodes.

The trial concluded that: The Ambu SU is the lower cost electrode when the additional patient preparation, extra electrodes and staff time are considered and that the reduced need for skin preparation improves the patient journey.

Author: Andrew Webb

I am the Managing Director of PMS (Instruments) Ltd a successful UK based medical distribution, service and sales company specialising in cardiovascular equipment.