Providers failed to wash hands in 58% of patient encounters, stethoscope disinfection is 'grossly overlooked' — 4 research takeaways

Stethoscope cleanliness is an issue that needs to be addressed, according to research published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Researchers assessed how often hands and stethoscopes were disinfected using an observational, cross sectional anonymous study of patient-provider interactions.

The key details to know:

1. Stethoscopes were cleaned according to CDC guidelines in 18 percent of 400 observed interactions, with 4 percent conforming to CDC guidelines.

2. Stethoscopes weren't disinfected before examinations involving a patient's open chest or abdominal wounds.

3. Providers cleaned their hands 6.8 percent of the time before and after encounters, but didn't clean their hands in 58 percent of encounters. Gloves were worn in 85.3 percent of these cases.

4. Researchers said stethoscope disinfection is "grossly overlooked," which possibly jeopardizes patient safety.

"Although hands were rarely cleaned per CDC guidelines, gloves were usually worn, but no convenient stethoscope equivalent exists," they concluded.

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