A recent study of a sample of EMS providers in New Jersey by the UMDNJ found that 1 in 3 stethoscopes were infected with MRSA.
All the time they were trying to help the patient, they were exposing them to a possible MRSA infection.
50 stethoscopes used by nurses, paramedics and EMTs were tested over a 24 hour period. Of the 50, 16 were infected and a further 16 users could not remember the last time that they were cleaned.
Basic hygiene standards will help to reduce the spread of infections such as MRSA.The 3M Littmann range of stethoscopes are designed with cleaning procedures in mind- the rim, diaphragm, ear tips etc can all be removed for easy cleaning. This is one of the reasons that screw on ear tips were discontinued by 3M Littmann as they were harder to keep clean compared with the push on type.
The use of hand sanitizers on the hands and isopropyl alcohol wipes on the stethoscope will help to reduce the spread of the infection.
The length of time between cleaning stethoscopes will naturally have an impact upon the likelihood of you having the MRSA infection on your stethoscope.
As a result of this, researchers will look at what is the most effective method of cleaning the stethoscope and they will also be investigating how long the MRSA can survive on the surface of the stethoscope.