A recent study carried out at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School revealed a disturbing fact: one out of three stethoscopes used in emergency rooms carried the virus methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA, which can be deadly. The study also showed that the longer the stethoscope remained unsterilized, the more likely the stethoscope will carry the virus.
A doctor participating in the study, Richard Ma, M.D., has patented a device to reduce the risk of transmission of MRSA and other hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) via the stethoscope. Dr. Ma has invented the Stethguard, a plastic shield that fits over the stethoscope.
While Dr. Ma’s invention is laudable as an effort to reduce hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA, doctors and medical staff should be following simple hygiene protocols. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stethoscopes should be sterilized between each use. Patients who have communicable diseases should also be isolated to prevent transmission to other patients and hospital staff.
While medical devices can play an important role in combating infections in hospitals, clinics, ERs and other medical facilities, simple hygiene, cleaning, and smart use of space should be the main lines of defense against HAIs.
If you were infected by MRSA or another hospital acquired infection while being treated in a New Jersey hospital or other medical care facility, contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer for advice about your options.