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Am J Infect Control. 2007 May;35(4):263-6.

Bacterial contamination of stethoscopes with antimicrobial diaphragm covers.

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  • 1Respiratory Therapy Department, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, Boise, ID 83706, USA.


Antimicrobial stethoscope covers impregnated with silver ions have been developed to prevent surface contamination and potential transmission of bacterial pathogens to patients. To test their practical utility, covers were distributed with the manufacturers' recommendations to a mixed group of health care professionals in a medical/surgical intensive care unit and an emergency department. Seventy-four clinicians were selected from a convenience sample for surface cultures and standard questioning regarding cleaning and cover use. Surface colony counts were significantly lower for uncovered stethoscope diaphragms (mean, 71.4 colonies) compared with covers used <or=1 week (mean, 246.5 colonies) and those >1 week old (mean, 335.6 colonies). After controlling for type of clinician, frequency of stethoscope cleaning, and method of stethoscope cleaning, only the presence of a stethoscope cover was associated with higher colony counts (P<.0001). We question the practical utility of the antimicrobial diaphragm covers evaluated in this study for reducing the surface colonization of potentially harmful microorganisms.

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