Maintaining Your Stethoscope
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Keeping your stethoscope clean and in good condition is essential for any medical practitioner. Not taking the time to look after your stethoscope can result in it not working properly and the possibility of putting patients at risk.

#How often should you change earpieces?

Earpieces are one of the first stethoscope components to show signs of wear and can also carry hospital-acquired infections (HAI). Changing the earpieces can help to restore the original sound quality. It is recommended that you change the earpieces frequently, many stethoscopes are supplied with spares for this particular reason.

#Signs you need to change your stethoscope

When the tubing becomes hardened making it prone to cracking as a result of the PVC material coming into contact with the skin on a regular basis. To prevent or to slow the process, the stethoscope should be worn over clothing so the tubing is protected against oil in the skin, helping to increase its lifespan. Alternatively, consider keeping the stethoscope in a trouser pocket or pouch.

#General maintenance tips to bear in mind

- Keep your stethoscope out of extreme temperatures, solvents, and oils.
- Never immerse the chest-piece in liquid.
- Clean your stethoscope regularly with non-invasive cleaning agents recommended by the manufacturer.
- Remove debris out of sound holes in the earpieces, regularly.
- Avoid the tubing coming into contact with the skin.
- Stethoscopes with a two-sided chest-piece will need lubricating on the rotating stem.
- When you’re not using your stethoscope, store it in a cool dry place – a stethoscope carrying case is ideal.

#When to clean your stethoscope?

- When switching patient to patient - this will help to avoid transferring bacteria between patients.
- Before and after a shift– this should form part of your daily routine and will help to reduce the chance of bacteria spreading.
- As and when needed– there are cases that require the stethoscope to be cleaned immediately, especially if there is a possibility the stethoscope has become contaminated.

#What can you use to clean a stethoscope?

- Mild, soapy water – the simplest method of quickly cleaning your stethoscope, providing you are able to access a basic detergent and water.
- Antibacterial wipes – a quick and easy method of cleaning your stethoscope, however, antibacterial wipes are not guaranteed to provide the same level of cleanliness as other options.
- Ethanol hand cleaner – convenient for quickly cleaning medical equipment in a hospital environment, especially if water is not available.
- Isopropyl alcohol – the most effective form of disinfectant for your stethoscope and recommended by most stethoscope suppliers! It is available as wipes, alcohol pads and in bottles to suit your requirements.

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