Stethoscope as a Vector for Infectious Disease
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Purpose of Review
To discuss the current status of the stethoscope as a vector for infection and possible interventions to promote stethoscope disinfection.
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.
KeywordsStethoscope 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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