Scene is annual checkup.
Medical assistant places pulse oximeter on finger. She looks at the wall and exclaims “What is wrong with this thing”. It reads out 44 as the pulse rate. Sats are 99%.
I say quietly, “I’m a marathoner”. She mutters and leaves the room, returning with a new oximeter lead, plugs it into the wall console and puts it on my finger. 46 it flashes, because I am now slightly irritated that she didn’t listen to me.
Serially: “This ain’t right”, “Are you feeling okay” (not waiting for an answer), “This one is broken too”, “Let me try on me”. Her pulse is 77.
She puts it back on me. 45. I once again say “I’m a marathoner”. She doesn’t listen.
I’m not sure if she ever charted the correct vital.
This highlights a misplaced trust in technology that is all too common in medicine. I know how disingenuous it sounds to hear a radiologist tell people to put less faith in technology. It is really how I feel. The technologies I work with every day are immensely powerful, but like all technologies, they simply augment the human intellect.
If you remove the human intellect, you’ll find the technology is quite useless. This happens every day in medicine.