Bacterial contamination of stethoscopes at a tertiary care hospital in southwestern Nigeria
Hospital acquired infections are a recognized cause of morbidity and mortality all over the world. They are frequently caused by organisms residing in healthcare environment, including contaminated medical equipment like stethoscopes. There is limited awareness of health workers of the contribution of contaminated hospital equipment to nosocomial infections. Hence we aimed to determine the level of bacterial contamination and bacterial profile of the isolates from stethoscopes at our centre- a tertiary care hospital in Abeokuta, Southwest Nigeria.
To achieve this, 2 stethoscopes were selected from each of the clinical care units in the hospital and studied. Specimens were collected using moistened sterile cotton swab from the ear pieces and diaphragms of each stethoscope and processed following standard microbiological techniques. In all, 26 stethoscopes were studied. 46.2% (12) of the diaphragms cultured yielded growth of bacteria while only 11.5% (3) of the ear pieces cultured yielded a growth of bacteria. Staphylococcus aureus (58.3%) was the most commonly cultured organism. Other organisms cultured included: Diphtheroids, Proteus species and Escherichia coli. 83.3% of the isolated organisms were gram positive while 16.7% were gram negative organisms.In conclusion,the study shows that there is a high level of contamination of stethoscopes in use by health care workers. Disinfection of stethoscopes before and after use is advocated to reduce the spread of infections.
Keywords: Stethoscopes, Contaminated medical equipment, Disinfection, Hospital acquired infections, Health care workers, Bacterial profile