Harmony in the ED

via Blogborygmi:

From the November 2005 issue of Annals of Emergency Medicine, by Goyal, Hollander and Gaieski at Penn:

The Figure displays an underrecognized clinical phenomenon for which we are proposing the term ‘synypnea.’ Synypnea is seen across the country and is defined as when emergency department waiting room patients have the same respiratory rate. We think it is pathophysiologically linked to menstrual synchrony. There is little scientific exploration on this topic, however, which represents fertile grounds for original research.

He’s pointing out one of the well-known oddities of medicine, that everyones’ respiratory rate is the same. This phenomenon is a precursor to the current trend that everyone has “10/10 pain”. A good chuckle for Saturday.


  1. The most interesting thing about synypnea, in my opinion, is that it is relative to the observer. A nurse will always observe a rate of 20, and a physician will always observe a rate of 16.

  2. Just like pulse, a nurse is more likely to take the time to get a more accurate measurement, but even then, we don’t see many odd numbers as respiratory rates, do we?
    It’s part of our fascination with numbers and greater confidence in anything to which a number can be assigned, implying, “This is objective, it’s got a number.”

  3. Well, at least we’ve got two of you fooled – we just like the number 20. :-)

  4. Doctors don’t necessarily like any particular number, we just like to guess.

  5. I’ve had a theory for several years now that odd numbers look more ‘official’, i.e. precise, and tend to use them because it looks like you actually did count.
    And yes, other than that, I’ve never seen a respiratory rate charted as an odd number. Pulse & B/P, yes, but not often, and usually because it was copied from a machine, but not from manual count.

  6. One likely reason you never have a odd count for HR or Resperation rate is that Nurses are taught to measure for thirty seconds and multiply by two or measure for 15 seconds and multiply by four. Just my two cents from what I have seen.