Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Could the Stethoscope Gain on the Echocardiogram?

Some seem to think it could:
Early tests of the (stethoscope) system suggest that it could eliminate more than eight million unnecessary echocardiograms and cardiologist visits a year, saving some $9.4 billion and, even better, catch more of the dangerous murmurs. For doctors, and anyone with a heart, this stethoscope’s upgrades are well worth the two-century-long wait.
One thing's for sure, the crappy plastic yellow stethoscopes in the rooms of isolation patients have to go.


h/t: Matthew Bodish, MD


Anonymous said...

And starting at only $765.00!!!!

Jay said...

As someone who takes true pleasure in pointing out industry bias and its effect on health care delivery, I find this post at least a little surprising.

This is a $795 stethoscope with industry generated unsubstantiated claims. Where is the evidence that this could eliminate echoes? Your link takes us to an ad from 3M. I've looked through their product information and there's little there of substance (small trials showing there stethoscope is better at picking up S3 sounds and the like).

I've got a great idea! How about 3M sponsors a trial that randomizes patients to stethoscope versus echo guided care. I bet we'd save a bunch of money! I'm sure patient would line up for this one.


DrWes said...


I said "some people" think so, not necessarily me. Your point about "industry bias" is, of course, very relevant. After all, a stethoscope delivers very different information (structure as well as function) than an echocardiogram, obviously.

I'd be happy to help you get that study comparing these technolgies off the ground, provided, of course, they donate the stethoscopes for free (wouldn't want to bias the study, right??? :)
No doubt there are plenty of comparative effectiveness research dollars available to study this, now that our new era of health care reform is upon us. Those health czars know echo machines cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (compared to the stehoscopes' "minor" *cough* cost of $795), allow cardiologists to make huge summs of money from their interpretation, and the data they provide, well, it's just okay, especially when you compare it to what you get from a stethoscope!

Given the current climate cutting costs in cardiology - you'd better be careful what you're asking for...

DrV said...

Ahh, screw it. Let's get an echo...

StorytellERdoc said...

Great site. Enjoyed your recent posts. Just upgraded my Cardiology 3 Littmann so I'm hoping to take that out of the 9 billion savings!

I'll be following. Just started my own site if you can check it out.

Jay said...


Sorry you didn't detect my sarcasm.

I of course would never want to start or participate in such a trial.

As I'm sure you're aware, I depend upon those echoes to get me EFs 35% and less to generate my ICD volume and get the kids to private college. Do you know how much Northwestern's tuition costs???!!!


K said...

I'm pretty sure i saw those same plastic stethoscopes in my little cousin's barbie kit

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy reading, even if I don't always agree, but HALLELUJAH regarding the craptastic isolation stethoscopes. Because goodness knows BMT patients never have cardiac findings worth actually finding.