To determine differences in the recontamination of stethoscope membranes after cleaning with chlorhexidine, triclosan, or alcohol.
Experimental, controlled, blinded trial to determine differences in the bacterial load on stethoscope membranes. Membranes were cultured by direct imprint after disinfection with 70% isopropyl alcohol, 1% triclosan, or 1% chlorhexidine and normal use for 4 hours. As a baseline and an immediate effect control, bacterial load of membranes without disinfection and after 1 minute of disinfection with isopropyl alcohol was determined as well.
Three hundred seventy cultures of in-use stethoscopes were taken, 74 from each arm. In the baseline arm the median growth was 10 CFU (interquartile range [IQR], 32-42 CFU); meanwhile, in the isopropyl alcohol immediate-effect arm it was 0 CFU (IQR, 0-0 CFU). In the arms cultured after 4 hours, a median growth of 8 CFU (IQR, 1-28 CFU) in the isopropyl alcohol arm, 4 CFU (IQR, 0-17 CFU) in the triclosan arm, and 0 CFU (IQR, 0-1 CFU) in the chlorhexidine arm were seen. No significant differences were observed between the bacterial load of the chlorhexidine arm (after 4 hours of use) and that of the isopropyl alcohol arm (after 1 minute without use) (Z = 2.41; P > .05).
Chlorhexidine can inhibit recontamination of stethoscope membranes and its use could help avoid cross-infection.
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Published online: September 07, 2016
This project was carried out with financial support from Antisepsia Central, S. A. Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. The company did not participate on the evaluation and discussion of the results.
Conflicts of interest: VA and AM have obtained economic benefits from Antisepsia Central.
© 2016 Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.