Bacteria-laden stethoscopes are health hazards
The researchers said that patients’ skin and immediate surroundings are the most common causes of both hand and stethoscope contamination.
Interestingly, the study found that the contamination of the stethoscope tube was not only comparable to that of the examining doctor’s hand, but in some cases, greater.
The researchers said the findings highlight the need to sterilise the stereoscope tube as well as the diaphragm, where contamination most likely occurs through its handling by contaminated hands.
It’s the first study to directly compare the level of contamination of doctors’ hands and stethoscopes. Seventy one patients were examined by one of three doctors using sterile gloves and a sterile stethoscope.
Following the examination, the stethoscope tube and diaphragm, plus four regions of the doctors’ hand, were measured for the total number of bacteria present.