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Staphylococcus aureus and stethoscopes

Karina J Kennedy, Dianne E Dreimanis, Wendy D Beckingham and Francis J Bowden
Med J Aust 2003; 178 (9): 468.
Published online: 5 May 2003

To the Editor: It has been well established that improved compliance in hand washing significantly reduces hospital-acquired infections and cross transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.1 Although there have been no reports of infections resulting from cross-contamination via stethoscopes, studies have demonstrated that 80%–100% of these appliances are colonised by bacteria.2-5 However, most of the organisms isolated are considered non-pathogenic. The most common potentially pathogenic organism isolated from stethoscopes is S. aureus, with a prevalence of 4.2%–27.5%.2-5 Cleaning with either 70% isopropyl alcohol or benzalkonium chloride wipes can reduce the bacterial count on stethoscopes by 94%–100%.3,5

  • Karina J Kennedy
  • Dianne E Dreimanis
  • Wendy D Beckingham
  • Francis J Bowden


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