An investigative case study at local hospital into the current reliability of blood pressure sphygmomanometers

Abstract Introduction Arterial Blood Pressure is a significant indicator of the current health condition of an individual. The correct detection of hypertension is essential, where this health problem is considered as one of the greatest health risks factors that affect the heart and circulatory system. This paper presents the importance of the application of metrological criteria for the diagnosis of hypertension using a sphygmomanometer aneroid. Methods 72 mechanical aneroid sphygmomanometers were calibrated using a standard manometer and the indication error, hysteresis, air leakage and rapid exhaust were determined; readings of these sphygmomanometers were compared to a properly calibrated and adjusted aneroid sphygmomanometer to carry out pressure measurements as those made during the hypertension diagnosis; the uncertainty of measurement associated with the sphygmomanometers calibration, and pressure values was assessed according to the recommendations of the Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement, defined by the Joint Committee for Guides in Metrology. Results The results obtained have shown that about 61% of the evaluated aneroid sphygmomanometers did not meet the specifications. The variable that most contributed to the final calibration uncertainty was the hysteresis of the standard manometer, with 53% of contribution, followed by the sphygmomanometer resolution with 27%. Conclusion The periodic verifications are essential to evaluate the performance of these devices. It was shown that uncertainty of measurement influences the final diagnosis of hypertension and the application of metrological criteria can increase the reliability of the final diagnosis.