The role of stethoscopes in the transmission of hospital infections
Stethoscopes are one of the most commonly used medical devices and have been reported to be potential sources of hospital acquired infections. In this study, we aimed to find out the bacterial contamination of stethoscopes used by health-care staff. Swab samples were taken from the surface of the diaphragm of the stethoscopes used by health personnel in four hospitals including three secondline and one third-line health care institution in Turkey. The samples were inoculated onto bacteriological and mycological media. For identification of the microorganisms, conventional methods and Vitek2 (Biomérieux) were performed. Swab samples were taken from 121 stethoscopes. We found bacterial and fungal contamination on 92 (76%) of the stethoscopes. 15 out 90 (16.3%) had potential pathogens including methicillin susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (5), methicillin resistance Staphylococcus aureus (4), Escherichia coli (3), Acinetobacter baumannii, Acinetobacter haemolyticus and Enterococcus spp. Of the 121 health-care persons, only 61 regularly cleaned their stethoscopes by various disinfectants. The statistical difference between the two groups in terms of pathogen and microorganism isolation was not determined (p>0.05). Although stethoscopes are uncritical medical devices, they could contain pathogen microorganisms and they might be a potential source of hospital acquired infections.
Key words: Stethoscopes, hospital infections, Staphylococcus aureus.