Identification and resistance profile of bacteria isolated on stethoscopes by health care professionals: Systematic review

Am J Infect Control. 2021 Feb;49(2):229-237. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2020.07.007. Epub 2020 Jul 10.


Background: Evaluate the presence of bacteria and resistance profile in stethoscopes used by health care professionals and its consequences within the hospital environment.

Methods: It is a systematic review, in which articles indexed in the BVS, CAPES-Periódicos, Cochrane Library, PubMed, Scientific Electronic Library Online, and ScienceDirect databases were searched.

Results: Twenty-two articles were selected for this study. The significant majority of professionals does not perform hygiene of the stethoscope, either due to the lack of instructions or the lack of knowledge about the contamination's risks. In addition, over these 22 articles evaluated, only 10 demonstrated that more than 50% of the analyzed samples were contaminated with some type of bacteria. Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus spp., Staphylococcus aureus, Acinetobacter spp., Pseudomonas spp., and Klebsiella pneumoniae were the most recurrent pathogens. Besides that, multiresistant strains were also isolated, highlighting resistance to Ampicillin and Clindamycin.

Conclusions: Indeed, the stethoscope is a potential disseminator of bacterial infections. The contamination is explained by the possible cross reactions that make the transmission of infectious agents possible. Cleaning before and after each auscultate is an efficient alternative to minimize these pathogens.

Keywords: Cross infection; Equipment contamination; Nosocomial infection.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria
  • Cross Infection* / prevention & control
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Staphylococcal Infections*
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Stethoscopes*