The most important commonly performed office test is blood pressure measurement, yet it is considerably undervalued. In the Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) Region, more than 2,300,000 blood pressure measurements were obtained by office staff in March 2009.
Controversy erupted last year when revised guidelines increased thresholds for diagnosing and treating hypertension.
Nurses and physicians often argue over differences between arterial line and non-invasive blood pressure (NIBP) cuff readings. To make the best use of blood pressure monitoring equipment, it is helpful to have an insight into how the equipment works and the likely sources of error that can affect readings.
Patients could be asked to buy their own blood pressure monitors because only a minority of GP surgeries have home measurement devices, an expert has warned.
Currently, anyone suspected of having high blood pressure is diagnosed by a GP with an inflatable arm cuff. Doctors then call the patient back for additional readings, but these are always taken at their surgery or in hospital.