During a DRE evaluation, officers obtain a driver’s blood pressure reading during step 6, examination of vital signs. While attending phase II of the DRE certification training, officers learn how to properly take a person’s blood pressure reading using the good ole’ fashion manual sphygmomanometer. For officers attending DRE school without any prior EMT or Paramedic training, learning how to properly use and read a manual sphygmomanometer is one of the hardest steps to master during DRE school.
Now-a-days, electronic digital monitors for BP readings are reasonably priced and a lot easier to use than a manual sphygmomanometer during a DRE evaluation. So, does the DRE training curriculum support the use of an electronic digital monitor during step 6, examination of vital signs?
According to the NHTSA DRE Instructor manual, “DREs primarily use manual sphygmomanometers that have only even numbered markings on the manometer. Even numbers that best represent the systolic and diastolic readings should be documented. Odd number readings would indicate an electronic digital monitor was used, which is not the recommended blood pressure measuring device for DRE purposes.” (2018 revision, session 7, page 19).
So even though the electronic digital monitor is easier to use and possibly more accurate than a DRE using a manual sphygmomanometer, the DRE training curriculum states it is not the recommended measuring device.
Bottom line, if you observe a DRE using an electronic digital monitor device while conducting a DRE evaluation, which I have seen in a handful of cases I have analyzed, the DRE is deviating from the training curriculum.