Current Emergency and Hospital Medicine Reports

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 120–125 | Cite as

Stethoscope as a Vector for Infectious Disease

  • Yu HoriuchiEmail author
  • Nicholas Wettersten
  • Rajiv S. Vasudevan
  • Olga Barnett
  • Alan S. Maisel
Heart Failure (F Peacock and L Zhang, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Heart Failure


Purpose of Review

To discuss the current status of the stethoscope as a vector for infection and possible interventions to promote stethoscope disinfection.

Recent Findings

Anywhere from 70 to 100% of stethoscopes are contaminated after a physical examination with bacterial counts of stethoscopes comparable to those of the physician’s dominant hand. Disinfection with alcohol agents can reduce the number of pathogens and risk of transmission, which is recommended by guidelines. However, only 0–11% of healthcare providers disinfected their stethoscope before patient contact and 0–24% disinfected after the contact. The effectiveness of educational programs with visual reminders and supplying disinfectants is uncertain.


Stethoscopes commonly harbor bacteria and can serve as a vector for transmission of infectious diseases. Only a minority of healthcare providers actually disinfect their stethoscope. There is a clear need for strategies to alter physicians’ recognition and behavior for stethoscope disinfection.


Stethoscope Healthcare-associated infection Infection control Disinfection 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Yu Horiuchi, Nicholas Wettersten, Rajiv S. Vasudevan, Olga Barnett, and Alan S. Maisel declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yu Horiuchi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nicholas Wettersten
    • 1
  • Rajiv S. Vasudevan
    • 1
  • Olga Barnett
    • 2
  • Alan S. Maisel
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Cardiovascular MedicineUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.National Medical University named by Danylo HalitskyyLvivUkraine

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