Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Whither the stethoscope?

Due to the pervasive decline in the basic clinical skills of physicians and trainees the stethoscope has been relegated to the status of an instrument to facilitate CPT coding with the unintended consequence of spreading germs.

Well, after all, the thinking goes, why work to maintain auscultatory skills when you can just get an echo? As this article in CCJM points out, that's dangerous thinking. Echocardiography can mislead. If it doesn't correlate with basic clinical data something's wrong.

As the late J.Willis Hurst was fond of saying, master low technology (basic clinical skills) or you're bound to abuse high technology.

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