To assess the stethoscope cleaning practices, microbial load and efficacy of cleaning stethoscopes with alcohol-based disinfectant in a tertiary care hospital

J Infect Prev. 2019 Jan;20(1):46-50. doi: 10.1177/1757177418802353. Epub 2018 Nov 7.


Background: The objectives of our study were to study the stethoscope cleaning practices of medical personnel and to assess the microbial load on stethoscopes and efficacy of cleaning stethoscopes with alcohol-based disinfectant.

Methodology: A questionnaire-based cross-sectional study was conducted among medical personnel at a tertiary care hospital in India to assess their knowledge and cleaning practices regarding stethoscope disinfection. Samples from the stethoscopes were collected before and after cleaning with alcohol-based disinfectant.

Results: Out of 62 participants, 53.22% individuals had never cleaned their stethoscope. All the initial swab samples showed bacterial growth. There was mixed growth in the samples taken from 35 stethoscope bells and 31 diaphragms. Bacteria included coagulase negative staphylococci, bacillus species, diptheroids, S. aureus, Acinetobacter and Klebsiella pneumoniae. After cleaning with an alcohol-based disinfectant, there was a significant decrease in the average number of bacterial colony-forming units.

Conclusions: Regular cleaning practices should be followed to prevent growth and transmission of potentially pathogenic organisms.

Keywords: Disinfection; healthcare-associated infection; stethoscope.