February 9, 2023, San Diego, CA – October 2022, a team of stethoscope hygiene experts met in Washington, D.C. and came to a sobering conclusion: “We can’t wash our way out of this”. For years now it has been recognized that stethoscopes represent a significant contamination challenge that is undermining infection control efforts across the globe. In a new publication in The American Journal of Medicine, titled “Our Third Hand: Stethoscope Hygiene in the Era of Alcohol Resistant Organisms”, these experts present the evidence that elevates concern on stethoscope contamination, the inherent limitations of current hygiene methods, and innovation promising to protect patients from exposure—concern that AseptiScope, Inc. shares.
For Abhay Dhand, an infectious diseases expert at New York Medical College, his long-standing concerns are now well documented in studies and reports across the world. “Stethoscope hygiene standards are not only failing healthcare providers and vulnerable patients but are also symbolic of a race that we are currently losing to alcohol tolerant pathogens”, says Dhand. “The data are very consistent that stethoscope diaphragms are potentially as contaminated as our fingertips, and they cannot be effectively cleaned between patients. It’s true that while we perform hand-hygiene between each patient, we don’t have an effective way to clean stethoscopes routinely ”, Dhand elaborates. “But even when we do take the time to clean the stethoscope diaphragm, we know that some of the most dangerous bacteria may be impervious to our cleaning.”
Several years ago, an emergency physician at Baylor College of Medicine, Frank Peacock, recognized that alcohol anti-sepsis was becoming less effective in a fast-paced world of healthcare. In the emergency department every second counts and we know alcohol is not fully effective, so gloving is routine. "Our stethoscopes are considered our “third hand”, because they are always with us and are fundamental tools for patient assessment”. Peacock explains that “with the level of contamination we see, we glove our hands quickly, but there is no glove for our third hand, the stethoscope.”
For the expert panel, addressing stethoscope contamination may also help ensure that alcohol resistance is met with an adequate defense to ensure patient safety. Francesca Torriani is professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Health and Program Director for Infection Prevention and Clinical Epidemiology at the University of California, San Diego, where she and her colleagues have been researching the impact of a new touch-free, barrier delivery system from local start-up AseptiScope. “We have established that this technology effectively breaks transmission of all contaminants and pathogens, including alcohol resistant bacteria”, Torriani continues. “Our urgent care team utilizes the product in their clinics and perceive this technology to be easy to use, while advancing patient safety”. In addition, Dr. Torriani remarks that switching to a touch free technology that allows for the safe use of the provider’s stethoscope, instead of a disposable patient item, will decrease the hospital waste, the carbon footprint, while increasing sustainability and the quality of the auscultation.
“At AseptiScope, we are proud to introduce The DiskCover System, the world’s first touch-free, aseptic, stethoscope barrier delivery system”, says Scott Mader, AseptiScope CEO. “Healthcare Associated Infection takes hundreds of thousands of lives each year, and studies have consistently demonstrated the stethoscopes culpability. The DiskCover System will address the stethoscope challenge, and our patent protected portfolio of touch-free solutions provide care givers the tools to shield us from all pathogens, including alcohol resistant bacteria, an existential threat to modern healthcare delivery”, Mader concludes.
AseptiScope, Inc. (www.aseptiscope.com is a privately funded San Diego, California-based, clinical innovation company.
Visit www.diskcover.com for more information and https://store.aseptiscope.com to purchase The DiskCover System directly.
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Scott Mader, CEO