Bacterial contamination of stethoscopes used by health workers: public health implications

  • Chigozie Jesse Uneke Faculty of Clinical Medicine, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Nigeria
  • Annayo Ogbonna Federal Medical Centre, Abakaliki, Nigeria
  • Patrick G Oyibo Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Nigeria
  • Christian M Onu Faculty of Applied and Natural Sciences, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Nigeria
Keywords: bacteria, stethoscope, infection, transmission, hospital.

Abstract

Background: This study was designed to assess both the potential for bacterial transmission by stethoscopes used by health-care workers in Nigeria and the implications for patient safety and control of hospital-acquired infections.

Methodology:  A structured questionnaire was administered to health workers and the surface of the diaphragm of their stethoscopes swabbed for bacteriological analysis using standard techniques.

Results and Conclusions: Of the 107 stethoscopes surveyed, 84 (79%) were contaminated with bacteria; 59 (81%) of the contaminated stethoscopes belonged to physicians and 25 (74%) were from other health workers.  Isolates included Staphylococcus aureus (54%), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (19%), Enterococcus faecalis (14%), and Escherichia coli (13%). All stethoscopes that had never been cleaned were contaminated while lower levels of contamination were found on those cleaned one week or less before the survey (χ2 = 22.4, P < .05).  Contamination was significantly higher on stethoscopes cleaned with only water (100%) compared to those cleaned with alcohol (49%) (χ2 = 30.17, P < .05). Significantly fewer (9%) stethoscopes from health workers who washed their hands after seeing each patient were contaminated when compared with the instruments (86%) of those who did not practice hand washing (χ2 = 23.79, P < .05).  E. coli showed the highest antibiotic resistance, while S. aureus showed the highest antibiotic susceptibility.   Strict adherence to stethoscope disinfection practices by health workers can minimize cross-contamination and ensure improved patient safety in hospital environments.

Author Biographies

Chigozie Jesse Uneke, Faculty of Clinical Medicine, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Nigeria

Department of Medical Microbiology/Parasitology

Faculty of Clinical Medicine

Ebonyi State University

PMB 053 Abakaliki Nigeria.

Rank: Lecturer 1

Annayo Ogbonna, Federal Medical Centre, Abakaliki, Nigeria

Department of Pharmaceutical Services,

    Federal Medical Centre Abakaliki Nigeria.

Rank: Principal Pharmacist

Patrick G Oyibo, Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Nigeria

Department of Community Medicine,

    Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki Nigeria.

Rank: Consultant Physician

Christian M Onu, Faculty of Applied and Natural Sciences, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Nigeria

Department of Applied Microbiology,

    Faculty of Applied and Natural Sciences, Ebonyi State University Abakaliki Nigeria.

 Rank:Graduate Student

Published
2010-05-11
How to Cite
1.
Uneke C, Ogbonna A, Oyibo P, Onu C (2010) Bacterial contamination of stethoscopes used by health workers: public health implications. J Infect Dev Ctries 4:436-441. doi: https://doi.org/10.3855/jidc.701
Section
Original Articles

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