Stethoscope – An essential diagnostic tool or a relic of the past?

Link to article at PubMed

Hosp Pract (1995). 2021 Jun 26. doi: 10.1080/21548331.2021.1949170. Online ahead of print.


Rene Laennec came up with the idea of a stethoscope in 1816 to avoid the embarrassment of performing immediate auscultation on women. Soon many doctors around the world started using this tool because of its increased accuracy and ease of use. Stethoscopes hold great significance in the medical community. However, is the importance placed on stethoscopes justified today? We now have devices like portable ultrasound machines that make it much easier to visualize the body. These devices offset their higher initial cost by reducing downstream costs due to their greater accuracy and their capability of detecting diseases at an earlier stage. Also, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, new ways are being investigated to reduce the transmission of diseases. Stethoscopes being a possible vector for infectious agents coupled with the advent of newer devices that can visualize the body with greater accuracy put into question the continued use of stethoscopes today. With that said, the use of stethoscopes to diagnose diseases is still crucial in places where buying these new devices is not yet possible. The stethoscope is a great symbol of medicine, but its use needs to be in line with what is best for the patient.

PMID:34180345 | DOI:10.1080/21548331.2021.1949170

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