Q Fever! Medical Humor & Satire

May 2, 2001 | Volume 2, Issue 5

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Stethoscopes Recalled

Abnormal right lower lung sounds heard in all patients

CLEVELAND, OH--Littman Medical Technologies today announced the recall of thousands of its Cardiology III stethoscopes, amid mounting evidence suggesting that their use results in the auscultation of coarse, tubular breath sounds with fine crackles at the right base of all patients.

Faulty stethoscope, one
of thousands recalled

The problem was first identified at St. Albans Medical Center in Cleveland, OH, where the diagnosis of right lower lobe pneumonia quintupled during a recent four-month period. Antibiotic usage there surged correspondingly, prompting a state-mandated investigation.

Clinicians and authorities eventually traced the problem to the stethoscopes, which had been donated several months prior by Roche Pharmaceuticals.

"I was seeing a patient who'd just had a right pneumonectomy, and she had coarse, tubular breath sounds with fine crackles at the right base," said pulmonologist Dr. Herb Peters.

"So I put my ear on her back," he continued, "and... and, nothin'! Her right base was as quiescent as a stagnant lilly pond on a densely humid August afternoon!"

"Without the frogs, of course," he quickly adds.

Some hospital officials suspect the stethoscopes may have been altered by Roche, so as to augment clinical findings consistent with pneumonia.

"[In] the same box the scopes came in, there were like twenty samples of Biaxin," says an administrator, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Just a co-inky dink? I'd say not!"

Biaxin (clarithromycin) was approved by the FDA in 1997 for the treatment of coarse, tubular breath sounds with fine crackles at the right base.

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