Persistent Value of the Stethoscope in the Age of COVID-19.
Am J Med. 2020 Jun 19;:
Authors: Vasudevan RS, Horiuchi Y, Torriani FJ, Cotter B, Maisel SM, Dadwal SS, Gaynes R, Maisel AS
The stethoscope has long been at the center of patient care as well as a symbol of the physician-patient relationship. While advancements in other diagnostic modalities have allowed for more efficient and accurate diagnosis, the stethoscope has evolved in parallel to address the needs of the modern era of medicine. These advancements include sound visualization, ambient noise reduction/cancellation, Bluetooth™ transmission, and computer algorithm diagnostic support. However, despite these advancements, the ever-changing climate of infection prevention, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, has led many to question the stethoscope as a vector for infectious diseases. Stethoscopes have been reported to harbor bacteria with contamination levels comparable to a physician's hand. Although disinfection is recommended, stethoscope hygiene compliance remains low. In addition, disinfectants may not be completely effective in eliminating microorganisms. Despite these risks, the growing technological integration with the stethoscope continues to make it a highly valuable tool. Rather than casting our valuable tool and symbol of medicine aside, we must create and implement an effective method of stethoscope hygiene to keep patients safe.
PMID: 32569591 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]