Bonnie Salomon, MD
Requests for Single Reprints: Bonnie Salomon, MD, 53 Crestview Drive, Deerfield, IL 60015.
Salomon B.; What the Stethoscope Said. Ann Intern Med. 2001;135:56-57. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-135-1-200107030-00015
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2001;135(1):56-57.
You might think it odd to care about a broken stethoscope—a piece of steel and plastic tubing, an instrument, a mere tool. You might think it overly sentimental to care about a 15-year-old stethoscope, now broken, a dud, not able to transmit the harshest breath sounds or murmur. My stethoscope has come to the end of the line, so to speak, lived out its life expectancy perhaps, and no longer works. It's time to get a new one. So why the fuss? Why bother feeling an emotional attachment to this inanimate but intimate object of auscultation?
The past few emergency department shifts revealed a stethoscope in trouble. I couldn't hear breath sounds on the most vigorous 18-year-old. Surely this is not COPD with poor air exchange. Increasingly, I could not hear what I needed to, and resorted to the tossed-about extra stethoscopes that reside in the emergency department. Soon it became clear that I needed to discard my scope and get a new one. Little did I suspect such attachment or a sense of loss. For what—a simple Littmann stethoscope? Absurd, but, like most attachments, this one defies logical explanation and becomes a matter of sentiment and nostalgia.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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