The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of
Staphylococcus-contaminated stethoscopes belonging to emergency department (ED) staff and to identify the proportion of these that were Staphylococcus aureusor methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA). Methods:
We conducted a prospective observational cohort study of bacterial cultures from 100 ED staff members' stethoscopes at three EDs. Study participants were asked to complete a questionnaire.
Fifty-four specimens grew coagulase-negative staphylococci and one grew methicillin-susceptible
S. aureus. No MRSA was cultured. Only 8% of participants, all of whom were nurses, reported cleaning their stethoscope before or after each patient assessment. Alcohol-based wipes were most commonly used to clean stethoscopes. A lack of time, being too busy, and forgetfulness were the most frequently reported reasons for not cleaning the stethoscope in the ED. Conclusions:
This study indicates that although stethoscope contamination rates in these EDs are high, the prevalence of
S. aureusor MRSA on stethoscopes is low.