RFID Stethoscope Wheezes and Murmurs for Medical Training

You’d think that with as many sick people as there are in the world, it wouldn’t be too difficult for a doctor in training to get practice. It’s easy to get experience treating common complaints like colds and the flu, but it might take the young doctor a while to run across a dissecting abdominal aortic aneurysm, and that won’t be the time for on the job training.

Enter the SP, or standardized patient – people trained to deliver information to medical students to simulate a particular case. There’s a problem with SPs, though. While it’s easy enough to coach someone to deliver an oral history reflecting a medical condition, the student eventually needs to examine the SP, which will reveal none of the signs and symptoms associated with the simulated case. To remedy this, [Chris Sanders] and [J Scott Christianson] from the University of Missouri developed an open-source RFID stethoscope to simulate patient findings.

This is one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas. A cheap stethoscope is fitted with an Arduino, and RFID reader, and a small audio board. RFID tags are placed at diagnostic points over an SP’s chest and abdomen. When the stethoscope is placed over a tag, a specific sound file is fetched from an SD card and played over earbuds. The student doesn’t have to ask, “What am I hearing?” anymore – the actual sound of bruits or borborygmi are heard.

We can easily see expanding this system – RFID tags that trigger a faux ultrasound machine to display diagnostic images, or tiny OLED screens displaying tagged images into an otoscope. A good place to start expanding this idea might be this digital stethoscope recorder and analyzer.

10 thoughts on “RFID Stethoscope Wheezes and Murmurs for Medical Training

  1. So many things, including the use of a stethoscope, could be replaced with automated systems. If there was a database of sound files, a computer could listen to a new patient and compare against it’s database, and diagnose faster and more reliably. Collecting the data is the only hurdle because of patient privacy concerns, but these concerns are easily outweighed by the potential benefits of automation.

    1. A computer that listens to a auscultates a random patient and can “diagnose faster and more reliably” than an experienced physician is far away from being realized let alone being implemented. In addition, it would need history of present illness in addition to other findings as just basing your diagnoses on just auscultation alone would be grossly negligent. There is a reason why the common mantra for physical exam includes inspection, auscultation, and palpation.

    2. Hi there is, there are manquinns which can be programmed to change colour, be talked through remotely, play sounds, put out ECG signals, be cannulated, … respond to cardioversion and defibrillation.

      They use RFID to allow you to give medications.

      The rooms typically have multiple cameras and speakers.

      The whole thing is recorded and reviewed as part of moulage and simulation training.

  2. The only thing I’d add to it is a method to modify the sound as the scope is moved around. While there are regions where doctors and medical professionals listed for various abnormalities, they occasionally have to fish to get the proper spot on each patient. Hearing how being off a little can change the sounds would be helpful. Perhaps a QR code added to the RFID device to get the distance from target data to the processor and play a modified or different sound when not spot on the area to check?

    Recording stethoscopes would be good too. Forget how a computer can diagnose based on sounds, A human listening to the same sound over and over can find patterns and abnormalities in a rhythm fairly quickly.

  3. The standard patient has been around a while but they can’t act with their innards, this is going to help make new doctors better. Oh, just a funny video about nonstandard standard patient.

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