A new study demonstrates that practitioner stethoscopes are contaminated by a plethora of bacteria, including organisms that may be associated with nosocomial infections. Importantly, cleaning reduces contamination but does not bring the bacterial biomass down to the level of clean stethoscopes. The important findings of this study were reinforced in a recent New England Journal of Medicine Journal Watch editorial comment that stated, “stethoscope cleaning needs to be promoted as much as handwashing in the healthcare environment.”

Richard T. Ellison III, MD reviewing Knecht VR et al. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2018 Dec 18
Knecht VR, et al. (2018). Molecular analysis of bacterial contamination on stethoscopes in an intensive care unit. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology 2018, 1–7. doi: 10.1017/ice.2018.319