How to pick the best stethoscope for you

January 23, 2017

Stethoscopes are kind of like designer handbags in the hospital. There are a million and one colors to choose from. You can customize your bell/diaphragm and even add fun accessories and charms. 

Like most people who hear the word stethoscope, I think of the brand Littmann.

Littmann is like your top of the line designer scope for your life profession. Some come with a very hefty price tag, but it is worth it because you want the best that is out there. Am I right? 

Back in high school, I fell into the peer pressure of having those in style, designer clothes, and accessories. My mom would get so mad at me because I was constantly asking for something new. Trends would fade in and out. When I reached college, I realized that wasting my money on something because of a trend was (for lack of a better word) stupid. I now have 40,000+ debit on my shoulders and should be saving. 

The peer pressure began again when I got accepted into nursing school and had a short, but expensive list of items that I needed to buy: stethoscope, clogs, scrubs, etc. My school only handed out the information for Littmann brand stethoscopes and steered us to the most expensive one on the list. Now that I am working as a nurse, I realize that my level of scope is more advanced than my current job. Currently, I have a cardiology style stethoscope. I love my stethoscope, but I have never needed the level of acoustics to listen for those tricky and hidden heart murmurs.

I have been lucky enough to try out other brands and now know there are better and more practical options out there. To help you save some money and purchase what is right for you, follow these simple steps:

  • Consider what type of environment you will be in. Because I work with adults, I do not need or have a pediatric or neonatal scope. Yes, they make specific scopes for these type of nurses or healthcare professionals. I also work in a hospital where it is usually quiet, so sound is not an issue with a traditional dual-head scope. If you work outside or with an ambulance, then you might consider an electronic stethoscope where you can amplify sounds. If you are in the need of an electronic scope, then consider looking into the Eko devices. They are working on developing a "Shazam" type of database to identify abnormal sounds. How cool is that!
  • How is the brand's warranty? Your stethoscope is another limb to your body; It not only is super critical to your work but becomes attached to your neck. Just like you have health insurance to ensure the best life possible free of illness and ailments, your stethoscope should come with its own insurance. MDF instruments includes a lifetime warranty and a free parts for life program. Littmann, on the other hand, has a limited warranty to a few short years and has stethoscope parts for purchase.
  • Look for quality. If it is not already clear how crucial having a great stethoscope is to completing your job, then let me emphasize it again! Not only will you use a stethoscope during school, but you will use it numerous times throughout a shift. Sometimes even a doctor might try and use your scope and run away with it. Now you probably want to be in your job for many years to come, so choose a stethoscope with quality parts that will last you for those years! Your tubing of your scope should be thick, dense, and length around 28 inches. Your earpieces should be flexible and comfort but create a seal allowing you to hear clearly. Having a fixed diaphragm or tunable is based on user preferences. If your diaphragm is fixed, then the bell is used for low-frequency sounds. A tunable diaphragm means that the user needs to learn how much pressure to apply to hear certain sounds. 
Stay tuned for a more detail post as I compare two different brand stethoscopes!

1 comment

  1. Do you require some help attempting to discover a stethoscope without flaw for you? Littmann offers an across the board choice of wonderful trunk piece hues and tube stethoscope for nurses hard of hearing


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