Putting Safety and Comfort First in a New Stethoscope
Any time a doctor or nurse uses any kind of medical equipment, no matter how simple or basic it may seem, the safety and comfort of the patient is always going to be a top priority. The same should be true for the professional using the tool, but when it comes to such commonplace items as stethoscopes, that is not always the case. Here are some simple and easy ways to ensure the highest level of comfort and safety for both the patient and the practitioner when purchasing a new model stethoscope.
The safety of the patient should always be the top priority of every medial professional, and while it may not seem like stethoscopes can present much of a safety concern, there are actually several ways in which patient safety can be put at risk. For example, stethoscopes made out of poor quality materials can result in rough surfaces and sharp edges around the chestpiece that can scratch or tear at the skin during normal use.
To avoid this, it is always best to select stethoscopes that are made of polished metals such as stainless steel or anodized aluminum. These materials are less prone to rough construction, and the promise of hand assembly helps ensure that there aren’t any hidden issues with the chestpiece.
Since the chestpiece is going to be made of metal, which can get very cold, many patients can experience extreme discomfort when the stethoscope comes into contact with their skin. This shock can increase heartrate and breathing, which has the potential to skew the results of the diagnostic tests. Also, unsightly stethoscopes in poor condition can make patients feel uncomfortable, which can lead them to distrust the practitioner and become unwilling to share honest information.
To solve these issues, first look for models that come with a non-chill ring on both the diaphragm and the open bell. This device creates a barrier between the metal and the patient’s skin, preventing the cold metal from ever touching it directly while also increasing the stethoscope’s sensitivity. To keep patients calm and positive, it may help to choose a stethoscope in a bright and cheerful color, or a sleek and professional dark color.
The biggest safety concern for the party using a stethoscope is the condition of their ears, as these devices require the insertion of tiny eartips directly into the ear canal. Soft, padded eartips that resemble those that you would find on earbuds are the best way to keep your ears safe, as they prevent overinsertion and keep a safe distance between the eartips and your eardrums.
Similarly, the weight of the stethoscope can directly impact the ears of the wearer, as heavy headsets can drag down on the ears and cause damage to the cartilage. Lightweight metals are best here, as they reduce the load that the ears must support during use.
The comfort of the practitioner is tied in closely with safety, as the potential discomfort can quickly lead to some serious safety concerns. As such, you should always look for stethoscopes that have ergonomically designed headsets. By curving the ends of the headset that connect to the eartips, you can achieve a more natural seat when wearing the stethoscope. The headset should not cause the eartips to sit in the ear at an angle, instead simulating a direct, level insertion.
Another important comfort factor for the party using the stethoscope is the size of the eartips, as this will directly impact the way your ears feel when using it. Eartips that are too big can cause strain on the cartilage in the ear, making it difficult to wear them for the long hours that the job sometimes demands. If the eartips are too small, then they can fall out or cause the headset to pull down on the ears and lead to similar discomfort. Also, eartips that are the wrong size can prevent you from properly hearing the sounds being sent through the stethoscope, limiting your ability to accurately diagnose issues.
As long as you follow the guidelines listed above, it will certainly be possible to find a stethoscope that preserves the safety and the comfort of both the patient and the party using them. Any discomfort or risk on either part can lead to serious issues down the line, for both the patient and the practitioner.