Personal stethoscope disinfection practices and bacterial contamination: a cross-sectional study at the University Hospital Emergency Department in Belgrade, Serbia

Link to article at PubMed

Am J Infect Control. 2023 Aug 18:S0196-6553(23)00551-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2023.08.006. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: A significant reduction in bacterial growth on stethoscope membranes has been noticed after performing daily disinfection. Nevertheless, disinfection is rarely performed. We aimed to assess self-reported stethoscope disinfection practices among medical doctors, detect bacterial contamination on personal stethoscopes, and estimate the effectiveness of 70% ethanol as a stethoscope disinfecting agent.

METHODS: To determine stethoscope disinfection practices, participants filled out a questionnaire (N=47), followed by providing stethoscopes for bacterial analysis. Differences in bacterial contamination were observed through the self-reported frequency and method of stethoscope disinfection. The effect of disinfecting with 70% ethanol was evaluated by comparing the presence of bacterial growth before and after disinfection.

RESULTS: The presence of bacterial growth was found in 78.7% of stethoscope samples, with the median (IQR) number of colony-forming units at 25 (10 to 105). The frequency of disinfection greatly impacted the number of colony-forming units, and the method affected the presence of bacterial growth. Disinfection of stethoscope membranes using 70% ethanol resulted in a compelling 97.3% reduction of bacterial growth.

CONCLUSION: Adequate stethoscope disinfection is highly efficient in reducing bacterial contamination and as such should be considered a critical step in hygienic practices.

PMID:37598902 | DOI:10.1016/j.ajic.2023.08.006

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