How Stethoscopes Can Lead to Hospital Acquired Infections

Effective disinfection of non-critical equipment and environmental surfaces within a hospital or clinic is an important element in breaking the chain of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs). 


Contaminated non-critical medical equipment can serve as a vehicle for disease transmission. Hospital personnel routinely come in contact with these items and then proceed to interact with and care for patients without necessarily cleaning equipment or washing their hands.

Overwhelming evidence exists demonstrating that both, contaminated hospital surfaces and high-touch objects are responsible for transmitting pathogens. The currently accepted position in the infection control field is that contaminated surfaces in hospitals and clinics play a major role in the transmission of MRSA, VRE, C. difficile, Acinetobacter spp., and norovirus. The recent agreement by professionals is growing in peer-reviewed studies¹ and shown in the Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases, an article by W.A. Rutala, an infection control leader who contributes to writing standards for the CDC.

For example, a 2017 study found that 100% of stethoscopes were contaminated with coagulase-negative staphylococcus and 38% were contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus². Even as recently as last year, studies have stated that “stethoscope hygiene is rarely done”³. As published in the American Journal of Infection Control, several reputable doctors from the Department of Internal Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine reported that stethoscopes are disinfected in the hospital “at a rate of zero”³. During hospital stays, patients continually come into contact with non-critical equipment that may carry a significant bacterial or viral load. This presents a significant risk for cross-contamination and potential infection which all play a role in contributing to the deaths recorded each year from HAIs4.

Moreover, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)  deny reimbursement for select conditions acquired during a hospital stay that are not present on admission. Three of the 10 hospital-acquired conditions on the CMS policy list for which reimbursement is not available involve HAIs, which are a common, expensive, and often preventable cause of inpatient morbidity and mortality.

While we won’t know which commonly used medical devices contribute to HAI transmission directly, we can take precautionary measures to remove and kill the pathogens on devices that we know currently exist. Clinics serving vulnerable, “high-risk” patients are most at risk. Some include but are not limited to hemodialysis units, bone marrow transplant facilities, neonatal ICUs, radiology and oncology centers, infectious disease isolation areas, and both inpatient and outpatient surgery centers.

Specialty care clinics and the patients they serve can benefit significantly from technologies that enhance the consistency and efficacy of surface disinfection. That’s what GloTran™ does. GloTran™ is a new, innovative, and cost-effective solution that addresses the latest challenges in intermediate-level disinfection in rapidly-growing niche healthcare areas.  Click here to view more on GloTran™.

For more information on GloTran™powerful disinfection technology, contact or schedule an in-person or virtual meeting with one of our GloTran Disinfection Specialists.


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1. Weber DJ, Anderson D, Rutala WA. (2013). The role of the surface environment in healthcare-associated infections. Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases. 26(4):338-44.

2. IPAC Lapses and Reprocessing in Clinical Office Settings. Dr. Maureen Cividino, IPAC Physician, Public Health Ontario. September 27, 2017. IPAC NEO Chapter Conference.

3. Khyati Jain, Nilesh S.Chavan, and S.M.Jain. (2014). Blood Pressure Cuff – As a Fomite for cross-infection. International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences (2014) 3(6) 755-758.

4. Jürgen L. Holleck, MD, et al (2017): Jürgen L. Holleck, MD, Naseema Merchant, MD, Shin Lin, MD, Shaili Gupta, MD. (2017). Can education influence stethoscope hygiene? American Journal of Infection Control. Volume 45, Issue 7, 1 July 2017, Pages 811-812.!

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