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Anaesth Intensive Care. 1993 Oct;21(5):575-8.

The Australian Incident Monitoring Study. The stethoscope: applications and limitations--an analysis of 2000 incident reports.

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Department of Anaesthesia & Intensive Care, University of Adelaide, S.A.


The first 2000 incidents reported to the Australian Incident Monitoring Study (AIMS) were analysed with respect to the role of the oesophageal or precordial stethoscope as a continuous monitor. There were 1099 of the 1256 incidents during general anaesthesia in which one might have been used in this way, but use was reported in only 65 cases (5%), predominantly during paediatric cases. In only one report, a cardiac arrest, was the stethoscope the first to detect the incident. In a theoretical analysis it was considered that the stethoscope, used on its own for continuous monitoring, could have detected 54% of the 1256 incidents (almost 25% before any potential for organ damage), had they been allowed to evolve. However, AIMS data suggest that the actual yield using a stethoscope as a continuous monitor may be much lower than this, and that even the use of a "mobile" stethoscope can not be relied upon to detect oesophageal or endobronchial intubation. These reports confirm that there is limited use of the stethoscope for continuous monitoring in current anaesthetic practice in Australia; it has been superseded by the sophisticated electronic monitors now available. However, in areas with limited resources continuous auscultation with a stethoscope remains a basic requirement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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