Cost-effective Guide to Medical Instruments Fair

As many of the NUS meddies are aware, the Medical Instruments Fair 2007 (MIF 2007) will be held on the 29-30 November 2007 (Thursday and Friday) at the foyer outside the Clinical Research Centre (MD11).

This is particularly catered towards the M2s who will be starting their clinical rotations shortly after their examinations. Unfortunately, this means they’ll be thinking about buying stuff that they have no idea what to use! This is not ideal. Hence, this post. Note that it contains the viewpoints of J., who is practical and extremely cost-conscious, and should not be taken as the viewpoint of all M5s (who have completed almost all their clinical rotations)

For stethoscopes, please peruse J.’s previous post, updated for easier reading:
Stethoscopes for Clinical Years

For a simple, but not exceedingly useful look at pentorches, here’s a post too:
Instruments of Illumination – Say “Ah…”

Onwards to the rest!

Let’s start with some negativity… all the things that look freakin’ gorgeous that you shouldn’t buy:

  1. Sphymomamometer (a.k.a. blood pressure device)
  2. Com-freaking-pletely useless. Utterly and thoroughly worthless to the medical student. Don’t even think about it. To add insult to injury, these babies come in at prices that could net you a stethoscope. When you’re going to open your own GP clinic, then you buy.

  3. Tourniquets
  4. Once again, useless. You’ll want these when you’re drawing blood and setting IV cannulas on a regular basis. Only problem is, with infection control a top priority in the hospitals, you don’t want one of these fomites being used on multiple patients. That’s why many house officers prefer to tie disposable things (like gloves).

  5. Ophthalmo-/Oto-scope
  6. Actually, J. believes every good medical student/doctor should have one of these, which he/she regular uses. In paediatrics, otitis media should be assessed for all children suspected of infection. In adults, diabetic, hypertensive changes should be sought after in many patients.
    Trauma patients might have papilloedema.

    The price, however, is prohibitive. The cheapest Welch-Allyn set costs $410. It’s just not used enough (unlike the stethoscope) to justify the cost. If one really needs to, there’s the ward’s ophthalmoscope to use, though in the examinations it’ll be best to have one that you’re familiar with.

Now, some tips on the other items:

  1. Tuning forks
  2. You’ll want the 512 dv tuning fork for testing hearing (cranial nerve VIII), you’ll want the 128 dv tuning fork for testing vibration sense.

    Though some books advocate the use of 256 dv tuning forks, in Singapore, as far as ward work and examinations are concerned, the 256 dv isn’t used, period. Don’t get the 256 dv tuning fork.

    Also, ideally, the 128 dv tuning fork should have a narrow base for more precise testing for vibration sense. Unfortunately, most of the ones sold at the MIF have large round ones.

  3. Pentorch
  4. A pentorch has to be bright enough when a decent battery is used. How bright is bright enough? Bring a friend to a darkened area (be warned, rumours may fly!) and shine the light into his/her eye. The pupils should constrict maximally to 3mm. That’s bright enough. Furthermore, the pentorch light should not have a central shadow area.

    A good cheap pentorch is the Energizer pentorch, available for $3.70 with co-op membership at the NUS co-op.

    The Welch-Allyn pentorch costs $69! That’s insane!

  5. Tendon tappers
  6. Gowllands is a good brand. The head is the right firmness, the handle is flexible and responsive, as compared to the cruddy ones sold at the NUS co-op. You’ll need one for paediatrics, might as well get it now. Buy both the adult and child one.

    Try to avoid funny-looking hammers. They look cool, but generally aren’t as easy to use or as accepted by examiners.

Only things to buy at the MIF:

  • Stethoscope (Classic II SE or Welch-Allyn Elite)
  • 2 Gowllands tendon tappers – paediatric and adult
  • 2 tuning forks – 512Hz and a 128Hz

Amount Spent: 95 (or 238) + (15 + 17.15) + (10 + 10) + 3.7 = $147.15 (or 290.15)

Things to buy elsewhere:

  • Energizer pentorch (from co-op)
  • hoechstmass 150cm measuring tape (+/- keychain) (from Home-Fix DIY)

Amount Spent: 3.7 + 5.6 = $9.3

Voila! You’re set for clinical years, with your labcoat from anatomy hall days and your brand new set of equipment. Total amount spent: $156.45 (or 299.45)

Now, if you’re male, take that money you’ve saved and go buy a tieclip/tiebar to prevent your tie from sweeping over the patient’s MRSA-infected diabetic foot.

Cheers! Hopes the guide helped.

P.S. There will eventually be the paeds kit to settle, but that’s a bit more complicated, so J. won’t touch on that now.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by plhu on November 25, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    additional note: The paediatric diaphragm for the Classic II SE costs $15 before GST. I had to go to the warehouse to buy it; but perhaps they’ll be selling it at the fair too.


  2. Welch Allyn provides good support. They gave me diaphragm replacement for free (a set of 4 colours). When some guys in my year lost their stethoscope ear buds, we got it for free from welch allyn. I am still using my elite stet which I bought during MIF in 2001 and quality is good


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