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C. A Study Looks into Stethoscope Accuracy in Cardiac Patients

Narrator: This is Science Today. Over the last two decades, technology such as echocardiography, a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart has vastly improved the detection of heart disorders. But Dr. Andrew Michaels, an assistant professor of cardiology at the University of California , San Francisco , says at the same time, there's been a decline in the reliability of the physicians' bedside diagnosis.

Michaels: Physicians have tended to spend a little less time at the bedside trying to elicit these physical exam findings. And if they do detect it or don't detect it, they just don't have confidence that they're making an accurate assessment.

Narrator: In a recent study on stethoscope accuracy in cardiac patients, Andrews found that experienced physicians are better able to detect a third heart sound that's an indicator of heart disease.

Michaels: So one thing would be to encourage medical schools and training programs for residents and fellows to spend more time teaching these people how to elicit these physical exam findings.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.