BP measurements and Stethoscope use

David Gordon, M.D. davidc.gordon at DUKE.EDU
Sun Sep 15 15:48:30 UTC 2013

So here is a twist to this discussion -- is it the stethoscope that is inaccurate or have we become less accurate in using it?  Here in the States, we can quickly move from "I hear something" to obtaining some form of imaging study whether it be an x-ray or echo.  We are also challenged by the growing body habitus of our population.

On the other hand, when I spend time watching our students in Singapore, I am very impressed with their use of the physical exam and stethoscope. They are very in tune with their findings and rely on them to make clinical decisions. This reliance on the stethoscope has preserved its utility and necessity.


David Gordon, MD
Assistant Clinical Professor
Undergraduate Education Director
Division of Emergency Medicine
Duke University

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From: robert bell [rmsbell at ESEDONA.NET]
Sent: Saturday, September 14, 2013 6:06 PM
Subject: Re: [IMPROVEDX] BP measurements and Stethoscope use


So across the spectrum of age, experience, hearing loss, etc. how inaccurate is the stethoscope?

Sounds like an Institute of Medicine project!

Rob Bell

On Sep 14, 2013, at 2:43 PM, Peggy Zuckerman wrote:

If someone invented the stethoscope yesterday, and tried to introduce it to the medical world, advising that one could just "listen" to the varying sounds, and from there, diagnosis with certainty a wide range of diseases and problems, he would be laughed off the block.  When there are more objective ways to measure hearts, which permit comparisons between professionals and institutions, listening with a stethoscope sounds like the equivalent of my touching the child's head with the back of my hand.  Tells me something, but not much, and not verifiable.
Peggy Z

On Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 1:17 PM, robert bell <rmsbell at esedona.net<mailto:rmsbell at esedona.net>> wrote:
Dear Bill,

I have often thought that taking blood pressure in the office is one of the worst things that the medical profession does


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