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Stethoscope hygiene failures can lead to patient infectionsJul212017

Excerpted from: Outbreak News Today

You can lead a doctor to disinfection, but how do you get them to clean…or wipe ….or swab a stethoscope?

That’s the question raised by a new quality improvement project published in the July issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official journal of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

It is the latest report to find that healthcare providers rarely perform stethoscope hygiene between patient encounters, despite its importance for infection prevention. Infection control guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that re-usable medical equipment, such as stethoscopes, must undergo disinfection between patients.

“Stethoscopes are used repeatedly throughout the day and become contaminated after each patient exposure, so they must be treated as potential vectors of transmission,” said Linda Greene, RN, MPS, CIC, FAPIC, 2017 president of APIC. “Failing to disinfect stethoscopes could constitute a serious patient safety issue similar to ignoring hand hygiene.”

The report describes a quality improvement pilot project in which the authors observed stethoscope hygiene (alcohol swabs, alcohol gel, or disinfectant wipes) at the start of a four-week rotation for medical students, resident physicians, and attending physicians at a tertiary care academic teaching hospital. The baseline observation of stethoscope hygiene among staff found zero occurrences. The project also looked at hand hygiene, which can include alcohol gel or soap and water.

Read the full media article on Outbreak News Today

Read the journal paper Can education influence stethoscope hygiene? in the American Journal of Infection Control

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