Stethoscopes home to millions of germs-study finds out

There are two ways to identify a doctor: lookout for a white coat and a stethoscope. These two things in most circumstances will be present with a health professional. For certainly, you can’t rule the importance of these two iconic objects. The coat is one prime identification symbol. As far as a stethoscope is concerned, a doctor needs to use it to investigate symptoms of nearly every illness.

We all have grown up seeing a stethoscope and know to a great extent what it is used for. It examines the blood flow, helps in listening to the heart, lungs and the intestine. This object is of great use and no other comparison can be drawn. But you might be wrong if you think it is the cleanest thing out there!

Stethoscope and bacteria

The field of medical science is increasingly giving importance to the hygiene factor. Studies have been conducted to find out the potential source(s) of germs and infection. One such study was documented in the Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. The results call for some serious cause for concern.

The findings that were documented revealed stethoscopes to be an abode for millions of bacteria. Particularly the ones that are used in the Intensive Care Units (ICU). They carry themselves germs that can become risk factors for further infections. The bacteria that were known to be present belonged to the Staphylococcus Aureus family. Other prominent ones were associated with Pseudomonas and Acinetobacter.

The study was carried out by collecting samples of stethoscopes that were under the ownership of the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. They were the ones that were being used by doctors, nurses, therapists in the intensive care unit. About 20 traditional stethoscopes were gathered that were reusable. After performing one procedure on the patient, they were actively used for the other patient. They had been in place in the hospital for quite a long time. 20 single-patient use stethoscopes were also collected. Unlike their counterparts, they were disposed of after one single use. For the purpose of control 10 unused single-patient usage and 10 reusable stethoscopes were investigated.

The documented findings concluded the presence of Staphylococcus in over 40 of the stethoscopes examined. The bacteria were covering almost the entire region of the object. To make the matters worse, scientists also found out that these germs had the ability to replicate and multiply further. The results were applicable for both single usage and reusable ones.

Important guidelines

The study conducted at the UPEN Hospital tells a lot about the overall hygiene of hospitals in the US. In the majority of the cases, the cleanliness factor is often neglected. This makes the medical instruments, a potential home for a number of germs. The problem needs to be addressed as the patients and hospital visitors are at an increased risk.

The findings also reveal the inefficiency of medical staff in failing to comply with the CDC guidelines. The guidelines have been made mandatory to follow by the US law Yet they are increasingly overlooked.

According to the CDC requirements, all stethoscopes should be sterilized before any type of usage. A disinfectant in other cases should be used to kill away any germs that might be present. Surprisingly, the study found out that a large portion of the hospital staff had never even heard about these two terms!



Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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