0

The full content of Annals is available to subscribers

Subscribe/Learn More  >
History of Medicine |

Introduction of the Blood Pressure Cuff into U.S. Medical Practice: Technology and Skilled Practice

Christopher W. Crenner, MD, PhD
[+] Article and Author Information

From Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts; and Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Manchester, New Hampshire. For the current author address, see end of text. Acknowledgments: The author thanks the staff in the Department of Medical Records at Massachusetts General Hospital for their assistance. Grant Support: In part by a Mellon Foundation Dissertation Support Grant in the Humanities. Requests for Reprints: Christopher W. Crenner, MD, Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 641 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.


Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1998;128(6):488-493. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-128-6-199803150-00010
Text Size: A A A

The history of the sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure cuff, raises useful questions about the acceptance of new medical technologies.When the blood pressure cuff first appeared in U.S. medical practice in the first decade of the 1900s, it generated some concern and debate among physicians. Review of the medical literature, a systematic study of patient records from Massachusetts General Hospital, and consideration of events in Boston during this period suggest that physicians faced several important choices associated with the early acceptance of the cuff.

The introduction of the blood pressure cuff presented physicians with several different, competing methods for assessing the force of a patient's blood flow.Physicians chose to use the cuff in a manner that preserved their exclusive use of the new tool and maintained a high level of skill for their individual practices. An early proposal to introduce the new blood pressure cuff as a simple tool for nursing use met with resistance. Many physicians initially favored a competing practice of assessing the force of blood flow by pulse palpation. Physicians eventually dropped the practice of subjectively palpating the force of blood flow and came to rely increasingly on the measurement of blood pressure using auscultation. Even after adopting the cuff into practice, however, they had little interest in completely standardizing the use of the blood pressure cuff across the practices of individual physicians.

Figures

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 1.
Measurement of blood pressure on the medical service at Massachusetts General Hospital, 1903 to 1910.

White bars represent the absence of any recorded blood pressure in 20 randomly selected medical cases from 1903 to 1905. Striped bars represent the proportion of all medical cases from available records with recorded pressures from 1906 to 1910. The total number of cases reviewed for each year appears above each bar.

Grahic Jump Location

Tables

References

Letters

NOTE:
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).

Comments

Submit a Comment
Submit a Comment

Summary for Patients

Clinical Slide Sets

Terms of Use

The In the Clinic® slide sets are owned and copyrighted by the American College of Physicians (ACP). All text, graphics, trademarks, and other intellectual property incorporated into the slide sets remain the sole and exclusive property of the ACP. The slide sets may be used only by the person who downloads or purchases them and only for the purpose of presenting them during not-for-profit educational activities. Users may incorporate the entire slide set or selected individual slides into their own teaching presentations but may not alter the content of the slides in any way or remove the ACP copyright notice. Users may make print copies for use as hand-outs for the audience the user is personally addressing but may not otherwise reproduce or distribute the slides by any means or media, including but not limited to sending them as e-mail attachments, posting them on Internet or Intranet sites, publishing them in meeting proceedings, or making them available for sale or distribution in any unauthorized form, without the express written permission of the ACP. Unauthorized use of the In the Clinic slide sets will constitute copyright infringement.

Toolkit

Buy Now

to gain full access to the content and tools.

Want to Subscribe?

Learn more about subscription options

Advertisement
Topic Collections

Buy Now

to gain full access to the content and tools.

Want to Subscribe?

Learn more about subscription options

Forgot your password?
Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a reminder to the email address on record.
(Required)
(Required)