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Advice from the BP Measurement Experts

Errors in Manual BP Readings make Automated the Way to Go!

Manual Sphygmomanometer and Cuff

So for the last 100+ years, clinicians have been using the auscultatory method for determining a patient’s blood pressure. This method is used every day to determine if a patient needs medication or some other clinical intervention for high blood pressure. Performed correctly, it’s considered by many in the profession to be the ‘gold standard’ for measuring blood pressure. But it’s that phrase ‘performed correctly’ that’s the kicker.

A recent policy statement from the World Hypertension League calls into question the accuracy of many auscultatory BP measurements taken today. Huh? If it’s worked for over one hundred years, how is it possible that auscultatory measurements are now being deemed inaccurate?

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Errors in Images Depicting BP Measurement - No Wonder You’re Doing It Wrong!

Errors in Images Depicting BP Measurement - No Wonder You’re Doing It Wrong!

Two years ago, we published a blog titled, “You’re Doing It Wrong: New Study on BP Measurement." This post came about after a group of researchers assessed BP measurement technique at a large academic health science center and their results indicated that most clinicians are - simply put - doing it wrong.

While recently attending the 2014 Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension (ASH), we learned of a new study1 by Drs. Clarence and Carlene Grim. Their research assessed the accuracy of BP measurement technique in online articles that included videos or photographs of BP testing. Their study, “ Blood pressure measurement is almost never shown being done correctly in TV/print news reports, or online reports/sources regarding BP news stories, reports that the majority of online images and videos depicting BP measurement were depicting people that were doing what? You guessed it - doing it wrong.

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You’re Doing It Wrong: New Study on BP Measurement

Taking Innacurate BP A new study1 published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension has reached the conclusion that when it comes to proper blood pressure (BP) measurement technique, most clinicians just aren’t very good at it. According to the authors, Minor et al, the purpose of the study was to “assess BP measurement accuracy and the level of adherence to recommended techniques throughout a large academic health science center.” As it turns out, the results were poor on both fronts and their statistical analysis indicates that technique does indeed impact accuracy.

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Man Protests Outside Drug Store Over Faulty BP Monitor

Man ProtestingWe recently came across an article reporting on a man in Grand Forks, North Dakota, who is so upset about the erroneously high readings from his new BP monitor that he spent three days protesting outside the store he purchased it from*.

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Top 5 reasons your automated BP monitor gave an error code

The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.”  ~B.F. Skinner, Contingencies of Reinforcement, 1969

Sometimes, the more technology aims to help us, the more burden we take on to ensure it works. These days, automated blood pressure monitors are rapidly displacing mercury and aneroid sphygmomanometers in physician’s offices. As we move farther away from the 100 year old standard of listening for Korotkoff sounds to obtain a BP measurement, and towards the simple press of a button, there are a new set of usage factors that clinicians must remember when encountering problems.

Below is a list of the Top 5 reasons a clinician would encounter an error code when attempting to take an automated BP.

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Instrument Calibration Adds Error Potential in Manual BP Measurement

Blood pressure instrumentsIn previous posts, we have reviewed the 10 Steps to Accurate Manual Blood Pressure Measurement and 10 Factors That Can Affect Blood Pressure Readings.  As important as these details are, accurate measurement also requires two things:

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