Stethoscopes or Maybe “Bacterioscopes” – Is hand Hygiene Solely Capable of Preventing Hospital-Associated Infections?

Link to article at PubMed

Pol J Microbiol. 2023 Mar 24;72(1):79-91. doi: 10.33073/pjm-2023-012. Print 2023 Mar 1.


The stethoscope remains an indispensable diagnostic tool for medical students. Improper stethoscope hygiene may cause bacterial infections, including hospital-associated infections (HAIs), which challenge the Polish medical system. The study's main objective was to evaluate the hygiene habits declared by medical students. Moreover, microbiological control with the characteristics of potentially pathogenic microorganisms was performed. The study included 66 medical students from the Faculty of Medicine at the Jagiellonian University Medical College in Cracow, Poland. The participants filled in an anonymous questionnaire. Stethoscope contamination was assessed through isolation, identification, testing of antibiotic resistance, and clonality of the isolates bacterial pathogens. The survey showed that only 30.3% of students cleaned their stethoscopes after each patient, and 1.5% never did this. Of the 66 stethoscopes tested, 100% were positive for bacterial growth. Staphylococcus spp. was the most frequently isolated contaminant (50.5%). The questionnaire results demonstrated the necessity of the validated procedures for cleaning the stethoscopes. Stethoscopes used by medical students are contaminated with numerous bacterial species, including multidrug-resistant organisms. The clonal structure of the MRSA and MRSE populations acquired from stethoscopes has been demonstrated. Our results confirm the possibility that these medical devices mediate the spread of hazardous pathogens in the hospital environment. Practical exercises are essential to forming the correct hygiene habits involving stethoscopes, which enable practicing and checking the correctness of the established skills.

PMID:36929886 | DOI:10.33073/pjm-2023-012

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