Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Top News

Study suggests doctors' stethoscopes can be more contaminated than their hands

See also

Every once in a while we see the results of experiments that remind us of how dirty everyday objects like our cell phones and women's handbags can be, and a new study sheds a similar light on a device routinely seen at the doctor's office.

The study's findings were published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings and announced in a press release Thursday. Researchers with University of Geneva Hospitals compared the amount of bacteria found on doctors' hands and their stethoscopes by evaluating 71 patients after seeing one of three physicians who used sterile gloves and stethoscopes.

After inspecting the stethoscope's tube and diaphragm (the metal circle placed on the skin) and four regions of each doctor's hands, results indicated that the medical device's diaphragm harbored more bacteria than the hands, except for the fingertips. The stethoscope tube, meanwhile, showed more bacteria than the back of the physicians' hands.

Scientists also concluded that from use to use stethoscopes can potentially contain methicillin-resistant S.aureus (MRSA) bacteria, which can cause infection, after looking at MRSA-colonized patients.

"By considering that stethoscopes are used repeatedly over the course of a day, come directly into contact with patients' skin, and may harbor several thousands of bacteria (including MRSA) collected during a previous physical examination, we consider them as potentially significant vectors of transmission," Dr. Didier Pittet said in the press release.

Pittet was the lead researcher in the study and is director of the infection control program and World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Patient Safety at the University of Geneva Hospitals.

"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," he added.



  •  Day 17
    Israel continues their ravaging bombardment on Gaza as the conflict wages on
  • MH17 victims arrive home
    40 bodies of the MH17 plane crash return to a somber homecoming in Holland
    Top News
  • Military advisers to Ukraine
    President Obama announces the deployment of military advisers to Ukraine
  • Bubonic plague in China
    A bubonic plague outbreak in Yumen prompts China to quarantine the city
    World News
  • Air Algierie disappearance
    A flight headed from Burkina Faso to Algeria disappears from radar over Mali
  • Windows Phone training portal
    Microsoft launches Windows Phone training portal in attempt to woo consumers