| Studies have found that 90% of stethoscopes are colonized with staphylococci, and one in three EMS stethoscopes is colonized with MRSA. Every year, hospital acquired infections cause 1.7 million infections and 100,000 deaths. The demanding and fast paced clinical setting does not always afford caregivers the ability to properly clean the stethoscope by traditional means between patients.
• It has been documented that only 32% of healthcare workers clean their stethoscope regularly.
• One study revealed that 234 of 355 stethoscopes carried at least two different types of bacteria, and 31 carried potentially pathogenic bacteria.
• One study showed the following in regard to the contamination of the stethoscope:
- 90% of physicians� stethoscopes were contaminated
- 79% of nurses� stethoscopes were contaminated
- 67% of medical school students' stethoscopes were contaminated
- 83% of respiratory therapists� stethoscopes were contaminated
- 100% of physical therapists� stethoscopes were contaminated
Transmission of infections is a major problem in the healthcare system today. It puts patients and healthcare workers at risk, and costs an estimated US$30 billion pa to the US economy, according to an analysis done by Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. Ubiquitous stethoscopes are suspected to be major cause of this problem - one recent study found over 90% of the stethoscopes were contaminated with microbes including MRSA. Although cleaning stethoscopes with alcohol can potentially solve the problem, compliance is very poor and the solution is not practical in certain cases, e.g. in busy trauma centers or in emergency room settings. There are some solutions available to healthcare workers today, including disposable stethoscopes, and caps for the bell portion of the stethoscope. However, these are largely inadequate. Disposable stethoscopes typically have poor acoustic quality and are an expensive solution, whereas caps cover only small part (~10-20%) of the full stethoscope.
Avossi, Inc. has created StethoMitt, the first full-coverage disposable stethoscope cover/sleeve introduced in the market by TechnologyPark.com, which provides a practical and economical solution that will protect healthcare workers and patients against infections. StethoMitt is a full coverage, disposable stethoscope sleeve/cover, that is both easy to use, and inexpensive enough for single use. It only takes a few seconds to put this sleeve on or take it off, allowing physicians and nurses to use a new sleeve for each patient. StethoMitt is made of familiar polypropylene non-woven fabric, commonly used in surgical gowns and masks for its ability to act as a barrier to fluids and pathogens. It only takes a few seconds to put on and take off. The stethoscope slides through the opening on the top of the StethoMitt and there is a adhesive belt loop to secure the chest-piece and prevent the stethoscope from sliding out (see image below). It is meant to be used for a single patient, just like gloves. It �s polypropylene non-woven fabric is a barrier to pathogens but is still flexible enough to allow for full movement by a clinician.
A technology that uses nitric oxide gas embedded into polymers as an antimicrobial to prevent hospital acquired infections has been granted a US patent. Enox Biopharma Inc. (Vancouver, BC) announced that it received a notice of allowance from the US Patent Office for its "Antimicrobial Gas-Releasing Ear Drainage Tubes." Enox calls the intellectual property a foundation patent for the company. Nitric oxide is recognized as an ideal antimicrobial agent since it is highly effective against pathogens yet not affected by the drug resistance issues of excessive antibiotic use. Nitric oxide emitting medical devices have a unique potential to reduce hospital acquired infections. Enox notes that the immune system uses nitric oxide to block microbial growth, with the compound also serving as an effective vasodilator that can accelerate wound healing. Its device technology is applicable to any indwelling polymer medical device including, but not limited to catheters, endotracheal tubes and central venous catheters. Enox funded a study that demonstrated that nitric oxide can be impregnated into urinary catheters and released slowly over two weeks, preventing the formation of biofilm and the establishment of microorganisms on the surface of catheters. Other studies have demonstrated that the compound kills many strains of bacteria in organisms as well as bacteria that commonly cause nosocomial pneumonia. The company believes that the manufacturing process of impregnating nitric oxide into medical devices will be inexpensive and easily integrated into existing production lines.