The Ultimate Stethoscope Buyer's Guide | Scrub Pro Uniforms
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BALTIMORE & PHILADELPHIA - AkGlobe -- In the market for a new stethoscope? Your stethoscope is the tool of your trade, and an investment in your practice – so it is important to learn and consider all your options.  Make the most of your investment by understanding what features you really need for your job, and what characteristics to consider when buying. Whether you are a student buying your very first stethoscope, or an experienced professional looking to upgrade – read on for a complete overview.

First, we will review the basics of how stethoscopes work, and the parts they have in common.

Stethoscopes 101

Sound travels from chest piece of a stethoscope (placed on the patient), through the stem, tubing, ear tubes, and earpieces, to the clinician.

Types of Stethoscopes

There are a lot of different names and styles out there.  How do you know what is what? It's not that confusing once you know what each one does!

Dual head stethoscope – Versatile and used to auscultate various sounds at different pitches. The larger side is the diaphragm and is used for higher frequencies, such as heart sounds.  The smaller part is the bell, and it is used for lower frequencies, such as lung sounds.

Single head stethoscope – Primarily used for heart sounds, this type has a diaphragm only.  It has a wide range of frequency of the diaphragm, and a clearer sound.

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Brands of Stethoscopes

There are MANY brands of stethoscopes out there, some well-known and others more basic. When considering brands, it is helpful to look at reviews from other health professionals and information like warranty and availability of replacement parts.

Littman is a brand you will hear often, and they have many different product lines, colors, and styles.  Parts are replaceable, and Littman offers generous warranties.

Prestige stethoscopes come in fun styles and colors and offer an excellent value!  This is the brand I started off with in nursing school, and it served me well as I learned my assessment skills and took on my first healthcare job.

Assess your needs

Are you new to the medical field and just not sure what you need?  There are a lot of choices out there – brands, sizes, levels of sensitivity.

Cardiology and specialty stethoscopes:  Going into a specialty area?  You may need to invest in a specialty tool.  Cardiology stethoscopes have a diaphragm that adjusts based on how hard you press it against the patient's skin.  Picking up those murmurs and subtle changes will be easier with a top-of-the line piece of equipment.

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Michael Kozlowski

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