BP measurements and Stethoscope use

Kuhn, Gloria gkuhn at MED.WAYNE.EDU
Tue Sep 17 11:45:43 UTC 2013


Dear Colleagues,
It is true that the physical exam is not as sensitive or specific as many imaging studies.  But is it something that we need to keep doing to determine what studies to order and  as part of the way in which we establish a relationship with a patient.  If we never touch, never listen, never palpate, and only order lab and imaging studies can the patient perceive us as anything but a technician and moreover one that appears to be very uninvolved with our patients.

I think we need a balance, the careful history and then the careful exam, and the explanation of why we need to order the tests because they are indeed more sensitive then the physical exam and we don't want to miss something.

A colleague sent me the link to the following discussion of the "ritual" of the physical exam by Dr. Verghese.  You may have already seen it and if so you already know his philosophy regarding the physical exam.

Finally, as I follow these discussions I can't help but think, if the goal is zero errors, we are doomed to failure.
In researching medical errors I came across a number of articles which looked at errors during autopsies.  the one that made an impression me was by Kirch.  Admittedly old but it looked at this over a prolonged period of time.  The message was that technology had not decreased errors but changed the ones made.

I am NOT advocating for not testing, for not being careful to look at the tests we order and informing the patients of results.  I am suggesting that we do the history and physical exam being aware of the inaccuracies and pitfalls.  And that we be honest with patients about what we do and don't know as a result of our exam and our tests.

I am sure that Bob feels a sense of betrayal and anger over the delayed diagnosis.  I think all of us would.  I know I would.  But medicine is not perfect and we are not infallible.  What we can be is careful, honest,  and caring and not defensive as we so often are when we can't solve the patient's problem.  What we can do is try to study clinical decision making and make it as good a tool as possible.  Can I remember 52 biases, always adding more as they are published?  NO, most of the time I am not aware of my biases as they are often unconscious.

But I can rethink my diagnosis when things don't fit or the patient doesn't improve.  I can have the courage to be honest with patients.  I can read about types of thinking.  I can attend this conference and read and learn from all of you.  I can continue to read medical literature.  I can do those things.  Those are things I can consciously control and I will.
Gloria Kuhn


Kirch W, Schafii C. Misdiagnosis at a university hospital in 4 medical eras. Medicine. 1996; 75:29–40.


http://www.ted.com/talks/abraham_verghese_a_doctor_s_touch.html



________________________________
From: Ehud Zamir [ezamir at UNIMELB.EDU.AU]
Sent: Monday, September 16, 2013 7:17 PM
To: IMPROVEDX at LIST.IMPROVEDIAGNOSIS.ORG
Subject: Re: [IMPROVEDX] BP measurements and Stethoscope use

Dear Rob
Do you know whether, in your wife's case, PE was considered and judged to be unlikely, or simply not considered?
Ehud
________________________________
From: robert bell [rmsbell at ESEDONA.NET]
Sent: Monday, 16 September 2013 2:55 AM
To: IMPROVEDX at LIST.IMPROVEDIAGNOSIS.ORG
Subject: Re: [IMPROVEDX] BP measurements and Stethoscope use

My wife was diagnosed with asthma and given bronchodilator for a week or so - turned out to be a pretty severe pulmonary embolus with a Factor V Leidin problem.

Rob
On Sep 14, 2013, at 10:26 PM, Benbassat Jochanan wrote:

OK, the stethoscope has a limited value for the examination of the heart. What about for the examination of the lungs, particularly for the initial evaluation of a patient with acute dyspnea?

Jochanan Benbassat

From: Peggy Zuckerman [mailto:peggyzuckerman at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Sunday, September 15, 2013 12:43 AM
To: IMPROVEDX at LIST.IMPROVEDIAGNOSIS.ORG<mailto:IMPROVEDX at LIST.IMPROVEDIAGNOSIS.ORG>
Subject: Re: [IMPROVEDX] BP measurements and Stethoscope use

Rob,
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
www.peggyRCC.wordpress.com<http://www.peggyRCC.wordpress.com>

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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