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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Do you wash your stethoscope routinely?

In his recent "In My Opinion" column in Advance for RTs, Jimmy Thacker discusses the importance of washing your stethoscope after each use.  He said it's been known for years that germs can be spread by hands, and we are encouraged, if not forced, to wash them frequently and often.  However, when it comes to our stethoscopes, there is no set standard of practice as to how frequently it should be washed, or even that it should at all.

In referring to the importance of washing your stethoscope after each use, he makes the following study reference:
Studies by Didier Pittet, director of the Infection Control Program at University of Geneva Hospital, showed that after examining 83 patients, the only "tool" used by a physician that was more contaminated than the stethoscope was the doctor's fingertips. Stethoscope diaphrams were robust with bacteria, including MRSA, in 71 of the after examination samplings.
This kind of proves what we already knew: stethoscopes, like hands, can be breeding grounds for germs.  Washing down our stethoscopes with germicide cloths is something we should do routinely, not just to prevent ourselves from catching diseases, but to prevent nosocomial infections.

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