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Blood pressure measurement - Does anyone do it right?: An assessment of the reliability of equipment in use and the measurement techniques of clinicians
  1. James T McVicker, MRCGP, MFFP, Clinical Medical Officer
  1. Career Grade Trainee, Women's Health Directorate, North Mersey Community NHS Trust, 40-46 Dale Street, Liverpool, UK


Objective To assess the accuracy and consistency of blood pressure measurement techniques among individual clinicians and the reliability of the equipment in everyday use.

Design Professional survey.

Participants The senior nurse at each of 28 clinics was sent two questionnaires about equipment, and 55 health professionals were sent a questionnaire about their measurement technique.

Main outcome measures Faulty equipment, date of last service, named individual responsible for equipment, knowledge of protocols regarding mercury spillage, correct technique for measuring blood pressure, training in blood pressure measurement.

Results An 82% response rate on equipment showed it to be in relatively good condition, although maintenance problems and some potentially dangerous health and safety issues were highlighted. A 67% response rate on measurement technique showed that there was considerable variation in individual measurement technique that could lead to inappropriate action.

Comment This study has lead to replacing all mercury with aneroid devices, and to the development of staff guidelines and updating on measurement techniques. A re-audit will be carried out to complete the cycle.

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