Complete Guide For Buying A Stethoscope For Doctors And Nurses

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A stethoscope is a very crucial instrument in the journey of a healthcare professional. However, picking the right stethoscope can be a very difficult part. It’s a life-changing investment, and your career depends on it. 

You should mentally prepare yourself for what the future awaits.

When you go to buy a stethoscope, you need to be familiar with the different brands and models of stethoscopes available in the market. 

The most famous and widely acknowledged brand is Littmann. Every model it owns is advanced in its features for a particular profession like cardiology, pediatric, veteran, etc. 

When you go buy a stethoscope for yourself make sure to examine it yourself before you purchase it. Wondering why that is necessary? Keep reading to find out!

Types Of Stethoscopes

Majorly classified, there are three different types of stethoscopes used by doctors and nurses:

  1. Traditional acoustic stethoscope
  2. Amplifying stethoscope
  3. Digitized stethoscope

With the advancement in technology, there are various models of stethoscopes available from which you need to pick the right one which best suits you and your profession.

The traditional acoustic stethoscope also varies with different categories of heads.

Types Of Traditional Acoustic Stethoscope

There are two types of Traditional Acoustic Stethoscope: 

  1. Single Headed Stethoscope
  2. Double Headed Stethoscope

Either type has its own pros and cons and is the better choice than the other in different working environments.

What Is A Single Headed Stethoscope?

A Single Headed Stethoscope has only one circular flat surface which acts as both the diaphragm and the bell. 

This kind of stethoscope is pressure-sensitive; to listen to low-frequency sounds, the chest piece is lightly placed on the patient’s skin, while to listen to higher frequency sounds, more pressure has to be applied against the skin.

What Is A Double Headed Stethoscope?

A Double Headed Stethoscope has the bell on the smaller side of the chest piece which is useful for hearing low frequencies whereas the flatter side has the diaphragm installed which is helpful in listening to higher frequencies. 

To note: the diaphragm side of the stethoscope works better while checking older patients and is also great for recording blood pressure readings whereas the bell side of the stethoscope works better for the smaller pediatric patients. 

3 Important Things To Remember Before Buying A Stethoscope

When you go to buy a stethoscope for yourself, don’t just buy the one which is the most appealing to your eyes. Instead, experiment with them since it’s a long term investment and is very crucial for your career. 

Here’s what you need to know when buying a stethoscope:

Does The Stethoscope Fit Your Ears?

While testing different stethoscopes make sure you try them on and see if the earpieces fit you perfectly or are too tight for the ears. If they are too tight you might just not be able to hear the patient’s internal sounds and this could create a procedure in the treatments. If one doesn’t feel comfortable to the ears, move on to the next one!

Checking The Quality Of Stethoscope Tube

Another thing you want to examine is the tubing of the stethoscope. The quality of the tubing is very important. 

Our advice is that you should not settle for cheap stethoscopes because often their tubing material is not very long-lasting and cracks form after a couple of months. 

Short vs. Long Stethoscope Tubes

Alongside the quality, the length of the tubing is also very important. You can work with a long length but definitely not a short length.

To give you a rough idea, the length of the tubing varies from 22 to 30 inches with 27 inches being the most ideal length.

Are you wondering why you should not opt for a shorter length of the tube? 

To answer that question, if the length of the tube is short, it means that you will have to be closer to the patient to hear the beats.

Therefore, we would recommend you to go for the ideal length to ensure appropriate distance between the doctor and the patient, and this way you won’t have to constantly lean forward.

To Note: your stethoscope needs to be airtight for transmission of sound. 

If the structure of the chest piece is hampered or the tubing is punctured, the seal will not be optimal and some of the sound particles will escape the route!

7 Factors To Determine Which Stethoscope Is Right For Your Working Environment

 It is important to note that different doctors in this professional field use different types of stethoscopes. 

  1. The stethoscope of a cardiologist varies from that of a pediatric to that of a veteran. A cardiologist would use a normal acoustic single or double headed stethoscope whereas a veterinarian uses a special design of stethoscope which is ideally made for animals. 
  2. The medical field you work in defines what type of a stethoscope would be best suitable.
    For example, medical and nursing candidates work in calm environments, often dealing with patients one on one and hence the Single Headed Stethoscope could be a great option. 
  3. On the other hand, paramedics, surgeons and veterans work in loud environments. The loud noises can hamper the hearings resulting in loss of accuracy, therefore, their stethoscope needs to be highly developed in its features to reduce noise reduction.
    A stethoscope with an acrylic head is the most viable option in such situations because they block out the noise. 
  4. Another factor you need to consider is the age group of patients you will be in contact with. If you are dealing with patients from all age groups then a double headed stethoscope should be your ideal preference. 
  5. Moving forward to the brands, Littman is the most well known and preferred stethoscope. It never disappoints. All models of this brand are long lasting and give 100 percent accuracy.
    The 3M Littmann Classic III Stethoscope, 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E stethoscope, 3M Littmann Cardiology IV Stethoscope are some of the best and commonly used stethoscopes.
    It can be a little above your budget, but the product is worth all that investment and it comes with years of warranty.   
  6. A family doctor or a pediatrician, and nurses, often go for the 3M Littmann Classic III Stethoscope. This is their ideal choice because of the adjustable diaphragm feature it provides. It is used for patient monitoring and diagnosis.
    On the other hand, if you work in cardiology, the 3M Littmann Cardiology Stethoscope is the perfect choice for you. However your decision can vary according to your ease, comfort and affordability.
  7. MDF Rose Gold Dual Head Stethoscope is also widely used and the advantage of it is that it will definitely fall in your budget. Isn’t that convenient!

By this point, we have covered all the important details and tips you need to know while buying a stethoscope. 

So the next time you go shopping, just keep these tips in mind, make sure to test before purchasing, and choose the product you are most comfortable with.