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How (And Why) to Clean a Stethoscope

(from the April 2019 ACP Hospitalist)

Research has found that stethoscopes harbor microbes and that many clinicians never clean theirs.

By Mollie Frost

Ever wondered how many germs you're wearing around your neck? Studies show that the microbial community on a stethoscope is robust and sometimes includes drug-resistant pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus.

In one recent study, microbe samples taken from stethoscope bells and diaphragms found S. aureus, Acinetobacter, and Klebsiella pneumoniae, according to results published in the January 2019 Journal of Infection Prevention. Out of 62 hospital staff members surveyed as part of the study, 33 (53.2%) said they had never cleaned their stethoscopes.

“This study is from India, but I bet that's probably pretty close to the case in the U.S. The stethoscope is so commonly used, but people just don't think about it,” said Michael B. Edmond, MD, FACP, MPH, MPA, chief quality officer and associate chief medical officer at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in Iowa City.

Dr. Edmond and other infection control experts explained why stethoscope decontamination is especially important in the hospital and offered tips for spotless stethoscoping.

Read the full article in ACP Hospitalist.

ACP Hospitalist provides news and information about hospital medicine, covering the latest trends and issues in the field.

Back to the December 2019 issue of ACP IMpact