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Improving Stethoscope Disinfection at a Children's Hospital

  • Justin Zaghi (a1), Jing Zhou (a2), Dionne A. Graham (a2), Gail Potter-Bynoe (a3) and Thomas J. Sandora (a3) (a4)...



Stethoscopes are contaminated with pathogenic bacteria and pose a risk for transmission of infections, but few clinicians disinfect their stethoscope after every use. We sought to improve stethoscope disinfection rates among pediatric healthcare providers by providing access to disinfection materials and visual reminders to disinfect stethoscopes.


Prospective intervention study.


Inpatient units and emergency department of a major pediatric hospital.


Physicians and nurses with high anticipated stethoscope use.


Baskets filled with alcohol prep pads and a sticker reminding providers to regularly disinfect stethoscopes were installed outside of patient rooms. Healthcare providers' stethoscope disinfection behaviors were directly observed before and after the intervention. Multivariable logistic regression models were created to identify independent predictors of stethoscope disinfection.


Two hundred twenty-six observations were made in the preintervention period and 261 in the postintervention period (83% were of physicians). Stethoscope disinfection compliance increased significantly from a baseline of 34% to 59% postintervention (P < .001). In adjusted analyses, the postintervention period was associated with improved disinfection among both physicians (odds ratio [OR], 2.3 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.4-3.5]) and nurses (OR, 14.3 [95% CI, 4.6-44.6]). Additional factors independently associated with disinfection included subspecialty unit (vs general pediatrics; OR, 0.5 [95% CI, 0.3-0.8]) and contact precautions (OR, 2.3 [95% CI, 1.2-4.1]).


Providing stethoscope disinfection supplies and visible reminders outside of patient rooms significantly increased stethoscope disinfection rates among physicians and nurses at a children's hospital. This simple intervention could be replicated at other healthcare facilities. Future research should assess the impact on patient infections.


Corresponding author

Boston Children's Hospital, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 (


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