Choosing the best stethoscope for the job

Mentone Educational Centre

Friday, 02 November, 2018



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For most medical practitioners, choosing a new stethoscope can be an arduous task. It is natural that you want to have the best option for your patients, yet finding that one perfect stethoscope in a sea of others can seem next to impossible. Still, there are some factors you can incorporate in your decision and narrow things down a bit.

Tubing durability

Many clinicians have to replace their stethoscope prematurely because of broken tubing. Premature wear and tear on a stethoscope’s tubing are not uncommon though, especially since most materials are quite susceptible to damage from skin oils and alcohol.

Newer stethoscope models are made with different materials. Even though an older model might be more attractive in price, it could mean needing another replacement not so far down the line. So, when purchasing a new stethoscope, be sure to inform about new stethoscopes with more resistant tubing materials.

Versatility

Even though this aspect depends on your job in the medical world, most medical professionals need a stethoscope that can examine both adult and paediatric patients. In fact, even medical professionals who solely see adult patients may need a paediatric chestpiece; this could happen when good auscultation is not possible due to a lack of good contact between the chestpiece and the patient, a common occurrence with underweight patients.

To ensure your stethoscope covers all types of patients, you could consider a stethoscope with a double-sided chestpiece. Double-sided chestpieces usually contain an adult and a paediatric diaphragm, enabling you to use the same stethoscope on various patients.

Need specialist auscultation? Find an electronic cardiology stethoscope!

Mechanical stethoscopes can be tricky if you work in cardiology. Even though there are mechanical stethoscopes that are specifically made for cardiology and perform quite well, the electronic versions can provide some extra features and better performance where auscultation is concerned.

Some of the new electronic stethoscopes have the ability to record and play sounds recorded during an examination; this could prove useful for a patient where diagnosis is difficult. It enables clinicians to consult other medical professionals. In some cases, they can even send recorded sound over a dedicated system, which can then be listened to by another specialist overseas. The possibilities are endless with the advanced electronic stethoscope.

Of course, an electronic stethoscope can be more of an investment than the regular mechanical one. That being said, you will get a bunch of extra features on top, including the ability to increase the volume of the headset during an examination. For specialists, this is a feature that cannot be underestimated.

Stethoscope weight

Now we have covered the basics such as sound transfer and tubing quality, we must look at the weight of a stethoscope as well. However, this aspect of a stethoscope purchase is only important for clinicians who wear their stethoscope around the neck.

When wearing your stethoscope around your neck for long periods of time, it is not uncommon to experience neck strain and pain. Over the years, stethoscope manufacturers have made their stethoscopes a lot lighter for this exact reason. Therefore, older stethoscope models may be a lot heavier than their newer counterparts.

Most medical equipment sellers will put the weight of stethoscopes online; this enables you to compare and determine the best fit for you. However, if stethoscope weight is a serious concern for you, it is always better to have a feel for the stethoscope in person, opposed to ordering it online based on specs.

Price

While price is not an object for many clinicians, one must be prepared for the fact that a good stethoscope can cost a little more. Cheaper stethoscopes often tend to have limited features and reduced sound quality. Thus, if you are considering purchasing a cheaper model, make sure you get to test it in advance.

The seller

While the stethoscope you end up with is the most important thing, a good seller can do wonders as well. Not only can they provide you with a warranty, they also offer advice and can narrow down the options based on your requirements. Specialist sellers — such as popular retailer Mentone Educational — tend to have a large range of quality stethoscopes too but are also aware of the latest developments in stethoscope technology.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/anyaberkut

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