Investigation of Stethoscope Technology for En Route Care

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Occupational challenges in air transport domains make auscultation with traditional stethoscopes difficult. This study aimed to investigate two commercial off-the-shelf stethoscopes for use in high noise military patient transport environments. The stethoscopes were assessed by Aeromedical Evacuation providers in a simulated C-130 trainer on live standardized mock patients. Device 1 was a dual-mode stethoscope developed for rotary wing military airframes. Device 2 was an electronic stethoscope developed for high noise civilian environments. Twenty clinicians performed cardiopulmonary auscultation using the devices on the same two standardized patients in a simulated C-130 then completed a subjective questionnaire on their ability to identify heart and lung sounds. Results indicated the dual-mode stethoscope had limited utility with clinician likeliness of use rated as low (median = 2; interquartile range = 1.75-3.25), whereas the electronic stethoscope had potential utility with likeliness of use rated as good (median = 4; interquartile range = 3.25-5). We conclude that further examination of devices capable of auscultation in high noise military environments is needed. In-flight testing of device 2 for use by end users has been completed and will be reported in a separate manuscript.



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