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Listen closely: The stethoscope is dying

| Jan 11, 2016 | Failure to Diagnose

There are two sides of the stethoscope debate: those doctors who say the listening device is dead or dying and those physicians who say the instruments are still useful and are likely to be important for years to come.

No matter which side of the debate your Covington doctor is aligned with, it’s likely that he or she agrees that many medical personnel aren’t as good with the devices as they should be and that the quality of their diagnoses might well suffer for it.

While the two-century-old stethoscope might be replaced one day soon by modern, more accurate imaging technology, the evidence suggests that many physicians continue to use the instruments — though not particularly well. About 20 years ago, researchers took a look at how well doctors in training and medical students interpreted the sounds they heard through the devices.

It turned out that both those studying internal medicine and those becoming family doctors had “disturbingly low” identification rates for 12 critical and common cardiac events. Much more recent research also paints a grim picture, the Washington Post reports.

Researchers discovered that doctors stop improving their stethoscope skills around their third year of medical school. And those skills might begin to erode after years in medical practice.

As you know, the stethoscope can be an important diagnostic tool that enables physicians to hear the sounds of your heart, your lungs, your blood vessels and more. But if the information isn’t being correctly interpreted, misdiagnosis obviously becomes more likely.

And with misdiagnosis comes inappropriate treatment, delayed treatment or treatments that are missed altogether. For those in Covington and surrounding communities harmed by a negligent physician’s misdiagnosis, a conversation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help clarify your legal options.

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