Assessing bedside cardiologic examination skills using "Harvey," a cardiology patient simulator

Acad Emerg Med. 1997 Oct;4(10):980-5.


Objective: To assess the cardiovascular physical examination skills of emergency medicine (EM) housestaff and attending physicians.

Methods: Prospective, cohort assessment of EM housestaff and faculty performance on 3 valvular abnormality simulations (mitral regurgitation, mitral stenosis, and aortic regurgitation) conducted on the cardiology patient simulator, "Harvey." Participants examined each of the 3 study disease simulations and proposed a diagnosis (session I). They were then given a cardiac examination form and repeated the programmed simulations (session II). The examination form was used to prompt physicians to interpret 23 separate cardiac findings for each simulation in a multiple-choice format.

Results: Forty-six EM housestaff (PGY1-3) and attending physicians were tested over a 2-month study period. Physician responses did not differ significantly among the different levels of postgraduate training. The overall correct response rates for participants were 59% for aortic regurgitation, 48% for mitral regurgitation, and 17% for mitral stenosis. For aortic regurgitation, recognition of a widened pulse pressure and recognition of diastolic decrescendo murmur were associated with a correct diagnosis (p < 0.01). For mitral regurgitation, correct assessment of the contour of the holosystolic murmur predicted a correct diagnosis (p < 0.001). For mitral stenosis, proper characterization of the mitral area diastolic murmur predicted a correct diagnosis (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Housestaff and faculty had difficulty establishing a correct diagnosis for simulations of 3 common valvular heart diseases. However, accurate recognition of a few critical signs was associated with a correct diagnosis in each simulation. Training programs may need to focus attention on selected key components of the cardiovascular examination to facilitate teaching of physical diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Education, Continuing
  • Emergency Medicine / education
  • Emergency Medicine / standards*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Heart Valve Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Medical Staff, Hospital
  • Models, Educational
  • Patient Simulation*
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Prospective Studies
  • United States