Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Enduring Aura of the Stethoscope

Christopher Snowbeck for Pioneer Press recently authored an interesting article called "Vital signs strong for 3M's stethoscope business". [09/23/2011]
The article gathers some interesting observations regarding this iconic diagnostic tool:
"If you ask anybody walking down the street - 'What is the one piece of equipment that identifies someone as a physician?' - easily 90 percent will say it's the stethoscope."
Yet "Cardiac auscultation - the technical term for using a stethoscope to hear heart sounds and make diagnoses - is 'a skill in decline' lamented heart experts writing last year in the British Journal of Cardiology."
"I would say there's definitely been a reduction in the amount of training for auscultation," said Dr. Robert Wilson, a cardiologist at the University of Minnesota. "But at the same time, it's also probably less important. We have all these other tests now."
However it seems the manufacturers of stethoscopes are not about to go away quietly, but point to their newer electronic stethoscopes, and a long line of other innovations designed to make the classic doctor's tool more functional than ever.
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