About this item:

68 Views | 54 Downloads

Author Notes:

Correspondence: Rajiv S. Vasudevan, University of California San Diego, School of Medicine 9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, CA 92093.

Author contributions: All authors participated in the writing and editing of this manuscript and agreed upon its submission for publication.

Disclosures: RSV, YH, FJT, BC, SMM, and RG have no conflicts to disclose. SSD: Consultant and speakers bureau: Merck; Investigator for Merck, Gilead, Ansun, Chimerix, Takeda/Shire; Advisory board: Merck, Janssen, Aseptiscope. ASM: Founder and the Chief Clinical Officer for AseptiScope Inc.


Research Funding:



  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Medicine, General & Internal
  • General & Internal Medicine
  • Advancement
  • COVID-19
  • Stethoscope
  • Potential source
  • Contamination
  • Disinfection
  • Infection
  • Predictirs
  • Management
  • Education
  • Vectors
  • Bias

Persistent Value of the Stethoscope in the Age of COVID-19


Journal Title:

The American Journal of Medicine


Volume 133, Number 10


, Pages 1143-1150

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


The stethoscope has long been at the center of patient care, as well as a symbol of the physician–patient relationship. While advancements in other diagnostic modalities have allowed for more efficient and accurate diagnosis, the stethoscope has evolved in parallel to address the needs of the modern era of medicine. These advancements include sound visualization, ambient noise reduction/cancellation, Bluetooth (Bluetooth SIG Inc, Kirkland, Wash) transmission, and computer algorithm diagnostic support. However, despite these advancements, the ever-changing climate of infection prevention, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, has led many to question the stethoscope as a vector for infectious diseases. Stethoscopes have been reported to harbor bacteria with contamination levels comparable with a physician's hand. Although disinfection is recommended, stethoscope hygiene compliance remains low. In addition, disinfectants may not be completely effective in eliminating microorganisms. Despite these risks, the growing technological integration with the stethoscope continues to make it a highly valuable tool. Rather than casting our valuable tool and symbol of medicine aside, we must create and implement an effective method of stethoscope hygiene to keep patients safe.

Copyright information:

© 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Export to EndNote