Learning how to wear and use a stethoscope may sound frivolous to some, but the instrument is a critical part of the health profession.
Doctors and nurses wear them because they are a valuable instrument when it comes to illness diagnosis. The purpose of the stethoscope is that is used to listen to sounds within the body during a physical examination. Since these sounds can’t be heard by regular ear, the stethoscope is used to listen to sounds of the heart, the lungs, the bowels, and even of blood flow.
For instance, the stethoscope can used to detect irregular heart beats within a purpose, suggesting murmur is going on. In this way, doctors can detect potential issues within a person’s heart. When a doctor places the instrument on the lungs, they are listening to your breathing to determine possible inflammation or congestion in the area.
So the stethoscope is a valuable and very necessary tool for medical personnel. Knowing how to accurately wear and use them is important as doctors needs to be aware of any noise or sound emanating from the body to deliver an accurate diagnosis of a potential ailment.
Types of Stethoscopes
Before diving into the usage of the instrument, understand that there are variations of the stethoscope. The most common is the binuaral ones which allows doctors to be hooked up to the sounds in both ears. A single stethoscope is for only one ear, but since doctors want to hear as best as possible, the binuaral is more popular in the medical field.
There are also differential stethoscopes which are used to compare sounds from two different regions of the body.
An electronic stethoscope helps amplify sounds of the body.
Finally, there are instruments for specific purposes. An example would be a fetal stethoscope is used to hear the sounds of the fetus during a woman’s pregnancy.
Wearing A Stethoscope
A key part of this medical instrument are the positioning of the earpieces. Medical personnel who use a stethoscope want to hear the best sound possible. The most sensitive part would be how the earpieces fit into the ear.
Make sure the ear pieces are in the right position. Ideally, you need to be gentle with the earpieces when you place them in your ear. Twist the pieces to create a slightly forward angle in the direction of one’s nose. Many prefer it to be 15 degrees forward as the ideal position. Also, pointing forward means pointing the ear tips in the direction of your noise. You want the ear pieces to be in your ear canals in order to get good sound from the stethoscope.
Doing this allows for a strong and tight seal to which little to no sound can escape, thus avoiding an warping situation within your ears. Noise from other areas of the room becomes very faint when the earpieces are in the correct position and forming a tight seal. If you still hear noise, adjust the ear tips forward until you don’t.
Medical practitioners should also try out several ear tips to see which tip forms the best seal within your own ear.
Check the tension on your earpiece. You don’t want the piece to be too loose or you won’t hear much. If the piece is too tight, you run the risk of damaging your own ears. Also, clean the stethoscope periodically to keep it in good shape. Try to clear out potential debris around the ear tip. However, if you remove the ear tip to clean things out, you need to make sure the tip is back in the same position when you put it back on the instrument.
Using the Stethoscope For an Exam
Make sure the chest piece is clean and without even lint before using it in an exam. You want to get accurate sound heard to see what is wrong with a patient, so an unclean piece can throw things off.
When using a stethoscope during an exam and listening for sound, the instrument needs to be held properly. Hold the chest piece with the dominant hand between the index and middle finger. Don’t have the tips of the fingers on the piece as it may distort sound.
The least amount of contact with piece and skin while maintaining a firm hold is the ideal way to using the stethoscope during an exam. Be gentle when pressing it against a patient’s skin as you want as little outside sound possible since you are trying to hear the internal sounds of the patient.
How to Carry a Stethoscope
Usually, a doctor uses his stethoscope once per patient and the usage happens early in the physical examination. Then, the instrument is left hanging from the doctor’s neck. That is the position which is commonly recommended when the stethoscope isn’t being used. Have the chest piece and the ear tubes hanging from opposite sides of the neck.
The tubes on the instrument shouldn’t touch human skin because skin oil could cause the tube to harden, making it more difficult to pick up sounds.
Because stethoscopes are usually balanced, they can hang from the neck with ease. Don’t try to put them in a coat pocket because the less rubbing against clothing the better. Rubbing can cause a shift in the ear tip, throwing off sounds heard during an examination. When the instruments hang from the neck, the rubbing is actually very small.
Those who use the stethoscope should regularly check the ear tip fit which can erode over time, causing shifts or looseness in what are supposed to be tight fittings due to constant use and steady rubbing against clothing or skin.
Understanding a Patient’s Position
The sounds heard from a stethoscope are crucial to providing a correct diagnosis of a patient. That means cutting out all other ambient noise and getting the most accurate hearing possible.
These sounds the doctor wants to hear may sound different depending on whether the patient is sitting up, standing up, or lying down. Usually the last stance is preferred because heart and abdomen sounds should be heard from such a position though hearing lungs is better and clearer when the patient is sitting up.