Perhaps no equipment is as iconic in the medical community as a stethoscope. Traditionally, doctors may have used a stethoscope to listen for cardiac or lung conditions. Yet according to a recent article, the skill and training required to correctly use this medical instrument may be sorely lacking.
Part of the reason is technology. High-tech options like diagnostic imaging have made some of the functions of a stethoscope obsolete. Such technology is highly effective: According to one study, echocardiograms are more accurate in diagnosing heart conditions. The technology is also getting more portable: ultra-sound devices, for example, now come in hand-held sizes. Medical professionals might be tempted to replace the stethoscope with hand-held ultra sound devices.
As a law firm that focuses on medical malpractice claims, we understand the importance of a correct diagnosis. If a patient has suffered a misdiagnosis, the delay in receiving correct treatment might result in injury, pain and suffering and other consequences.
Unfortunately, insurance companies and other corporate entities may impose financial constraints on medical professionals, so that costly diagnostic imaging might not be utilized in every case where it is needed. In the specific example of an echocardiogram, some insurance providers or hospitals charge separately for this test.
Admittedly, a patient with simple chest congestion might not warrant an array of expensive diagnostic imaging tests. Yet an elderly resident of a nursing home with these same symptoms might warrant a different standard of care. The investigative eye of an attorney can analyze the care provided to a resident of an assisted living or nursing home community. An attorney can help determine whether that care was negligent, perhaps rising to the level of nursing home abuse, and whether legal relief may be available.
Source: Washington Post, “Heart doctors are listening for clues to the future of their stethoscopes,” Lenny Bernstein, Jan. 2, 2016