Stethoscopes as a Source of Hospital-Acquired Methicillin-ResistantStaphylococcus aureus


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Abstract

Stethoscopes are potential vectors of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The purpose of this project was to determine the presence of MRSA on the diaphragms of personal and unit stethoscopes within a hospital setting before and after cleaning with alcohol prep pads. The sample consisted of 141 personal and unit stethoscopes in adult medical-surgical and intensive care units of a large university hospital in the Southeast. Each stethoscope was cultured once before cleaning and once after cleaning. Cultures were obtained using sterile swabs and inoculated on a selective medium for MRSA. Bacterial growth was noted in the precleaning group, but no MRSA colonies were detected. The postcleaning group had no bacterial growth. There was not enough data to statistically support that isopropyl alcohol is effective in decreasing bacterial counts; however, these findings suggest that current disinfection guidelines are effective in preventing MRSA colonization on stethoscopes in this setting.

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