Healthcare workers including Doctors may forget the potential infection risk presented by the repeated use of stethoscopes. The enclosed article is from the 2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research and is definitely worth a read. It may also prompt you to consider the current related practices at your place of work! According to the head researcher  Dr Didier Pittet   “ stethoscopes are used repeatedly over the course of a day, come directly into contact with patients’ skin, and may harbour several thousands of bacteria (including MRSA) collected during a previous physical examination”. They can be considered   potentially significant vectors of transmission.

He added: “From infection control and patient safety perspectives, the stethoscope should be regarded as an extension of the physician’s hands and be disinfected after every patient contact.”

The study findings found in part the following:

Dirty stethoscopes ‘spread bugs’ and  the contamination level of the stethoscope tube is not only comparable to that of the examiner’s hand dorsum but also greater. Contamination probably occurs indirectly through its manipulation with contaminated hands, and these findings highlight the need to disinfect the stethoscope tube as well as the diaphragm.