Digital Stethoscopes With Eko Core™ Technology Make ER Allies


ER doctor Wissam Rhayem, MD, owns every generation of CORE™ digital stethoscope from Eko Health. They’ve become powerful tools for improving patient care whether he’s in a busy metropolitan ER or a small, rural critical access hospital.

Wissam Rhayem, MD, smiles at camera with crossed arms
Noise amplification feature combats emergency room noise

ER doctor Wissam Rhayem, MD, who goes by Dr. Sam, has worked in vastly different emergency settings ― from bustling metropolitan ERs to a 25-bed critical access hospital (CAH). 

Attending the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University, Dr. Sam discovered his desire was to practice every type of medicine. That realization drove him to become an ER doctor. 

“You never know what you're going to be when you go to med school. In the ER, I have to be proficient in every specialty. I can deliver babies, treat a stroke, or a heart attack. I diagnose and reduce fractures. It’s the most exciting five minutes of every specialty, but you’re always on your toes,” he noted.

He honed his skills in busy ERs in Chicago and Detroit; yet Dr. Sam said that nothing compares with the acuity of the patients he sees at the Gila Regional Medical Center. Located in Silver City, New Mexico, about midway between El Paso and Tucson, their patients sometimes travel two hours across rugged terrain just to reach the 10-bed ER in this CAH. He’s been the trauma and emergency medical director there since 2017. 

Regardless of the practice environment, emergency medicine is often noisy medicine, Dr. Sam explained. “The amount of alarm fatigue that an ER doc gets is shocking. A lot of us hear alarms in our head — even hours after our shift ends — because there are alarms and noises going off at work all day.”

It was noise — or rather his desire to block it — that led him to discover Eko’s digital stethoscope technology. “It’s hard to focus on certain sounds, but that’s critical when dealing with conditions like COPD, asthma, and heart failure.” 

“I believe it was in 2014 when Eko was new, I began bombarding them with emails.” He offered to test the stethoscope and provide on-the-ground feedback. Eko responded and sent him a first-generation Eko CORE™ Digital Stethoscope. 

“The amplification was so good that I was hearing things that other providers simply couldn’t hear,” he recalled. “I got better at auscultation far faster than I should have.” 

Eko technology helps ER doctor find hidden ventricular septal defect 

Describing the practice environment at Gila Regional, Dr. Sam said, “We see men, women, and children of all ages. We do a lot of things that require us to perform at the top of our game.” 

Being at the top of his game is precisely what led him to recently discover a hidden diagnosis when a family of six had a major car accident. “We were already full and completely overloaded and overwhelmed,” he explained. “But right away, you do a rapid assessment. I was very reassured. The young kids looked good. The parents were a little beat up; they were going to have some bruising.” 

Although everyone looked fine, Dr. Sam continued his due-diligence examinations, including listening to the hearts and lungs of both parents and their four children. That was when he discovered a hidden diagnosis.

“Their youngest kid, who was 5 years old, was running around, happy as a clam. This kid had a murmur that EMS didn’t hear. He had had his annual checkup a month prior, and it hadn’t been picked up.”

“I didn’t even trust myself,” he said. He used his 3M™ Littmann® CORE Digital Stethoscope to record the sound via the Eko App and shared the summary PDF with the local pediatrician and a cardiologist. “They both got back to me quickly and confirmed that it was a real murmur.” 

The pediatrician came in and examined the child. He felt that it was probably a ventricular septal defect, an opening between the heart’s lower chambers. “It will hopefully close on its own but needs to be monitored,” Dr. Sam explained. 

Dr. Sam and the family agreed that the accident may have been serendipitous. “The car was totaled, but everyone was fine. We caught something that we otherwise weren’t going to catch. This is something that I could not have found without my stethoscope from Eko,” he said. 

Digital stethoscope’s sound precision and visual display make a difference

Dr. Sam is a true Eko enthusiast. “I've literally had every device Eko has made,” he said. Eko’s CORE™ technology helps him provide essential care in a variety of practice settings.

Most recently, he’s been using the new Eko CORE 500™ Digital Stethoscope with TrueSound™ technology. “It lets me focus on a patient’s heart versus hearing their lungs. I can separate those sounds depending on whether it’s in cardiac or pulmonary mode.”

Along with his emergency medicine work in New Mexico, Dr. Sam also works with a concierge medicine group in Beverly Hills, CA. “I treat some individuals who love to see the application of the newest technology in real time,” he said. “My patients love this stethoscope. Why? Because they can actually see what I see.”

“I recently had a patient who didn’t think they were in AFib, Dr. Sam said. “Just by putting the CORE 500™ on their chest and listening, I could see their rhythm. And because it was connected to the Eko App on my phone, I was able to show my patient the tracing on the device.” 

“Ultrasound is considered the future of point-of-care diagnostics. I completely agree; I carry an ultrasound everywhere in my backpack. But you cannot pick up wheezing or impending respiratory compromise with an ultrasound. You must rely on a really good stethoscope,” he explained. “And that’s what the Eko CORE™ is.”  

3M™ Littmann® CORE helped avert a family medical emergency 

Using his professional skills and Eko’s powerful digital stethoscope technology, Dr. Sam was able to avert a family medical emergency in his own home.

“I'll never forget when my son was a year-and-a-half old, and he just didn’t look right to me one day,” he said. Dr. Sam used his 3M™ Littmann® CORE Digital Stethoscope to listen to his son’s lungs. “I could hear barely audible wheezing before I went to work. I asked my wife to look out for it,” he recalled.  

About six hours later, his son was hospitalized with full-blown wheezing. Although he spent three days in the hospital, a potential crisis was avoided. “Without CORE™ technology, I would never have had the foresight to check him,” Dr. Sam said.

“Whenever I encounter a provider who is graduating and moving into any specialty where you need a good stethoscope, my one big piece of advice is ‘take a little bit of money and just get a CORE™ stethoscope from Eko.’” 

Learn how Eko’s CORE™ digital stethoscope technology is a powerful asset in emergency medicine. 

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