#1: How Clean is Your Stethoscope?
Most practitioners do not give the cleanliness of their stethoscopes much thought, but the results of a new study from the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC) are going to want to make them rethink their disinfection practices.
Hand hygiene remains the main focus of many infection control and prevention programs; however, according to the AJIC study, “microbiology data have shown that stethoscope contamination after a single exam is comparable to that of the physician's dominant hand.” The types of bacteria the scope could be contaminated with can include: Staphylococcus aureus
, Pseudomonas aeruginosa
, Clostridium difficile
, and even vancomycin-resistant enterococci.
Previous studies have shown that hand sanitizer used to clean clinicians’ hands between encounters is also able to effectively clean stethoscopes. Still, “healthcare providers rarely perform stethoscope hygiene between patient encounters, despite its importance for infection prevention, [and the fact that] the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that re-usable medical equipment, such as stethoscopes, must undergo disinfection between patients,” according to a recent email press release on the study. In fact, a previous study the researchers highlight found that stethoscope hygiene was performed in, “an observed rate of 4.6% of trainees at 3 academic medical centers for nonisolation rooms over an 11-month period.”
Learn more about the pathogens that could be on your stethoscope, here
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