A new study says doctor’s stethoscopes carry lots of bacteria that can be transferred from patient to patient during appointments.
Researchers from University of Geneva Hospitals collected and studied bacteria from the fingers, palms, and stethoscopes of three doctors who had 71 patient appointments. They looked specifically for a deadly bacteria called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
They found the most bacteria on the finger tips of the doctors’ dominant hand. However, stethoscopes–specifically the part that comes in contact with patients–came in second, with more bacteria than doctors’ palms. There was a decent amount of MRSA identified.
The study is extremely small, so we can’t jump to conclusions, but senior study Dr. Didier Pittet, told the New York Times that the findings are not surprising, and that many doctors don’t clean their stethoscopes between appointments.