How to use a Stethoscope

As a young doctor starting out in your medical career, using a stethoscope can be an intimidating tool to use with your patients. You do not know want to say they wrong thing or mishear. However, learning to listen to the human insides is a learning curve that will take you many months to learn. The intended use of a stethoscope is to listen to the heart and lungs.

It is important to keep the earpieces of a stethoscope clean. You could get ear infections or ear mites from other people who have used the doctor’s tool before. This can be painful and annoying. Being sick can keep you out of work. You can use hot water and soap or you can soak the ends in alcohol. It is uncomfortable to put a cold chest piece against a patient that has a fever. Try warming the chest piece in your palm before use.

When you rub the chest piece with your palm, you are cleaning the stethoscope chest piece out too. Place the earpieces firmly in your ear canal to use the stethoscope in order to hear. If the earpieces are not positioned properly, you will not be able to hear the heart correctly. This could put your patient in medical danger. Both sides of stethoscope earpieces need to fit comfortably in your ear. Some stethoscopes are missing an earpiece, which can affect sound quality too.

Be sure to test the stethoscope for good sound quality before applying to your patient. Some stethoscopes can lose their sound after too many uses. This can cause your patient to become more ill or potentially die if you misdiagnosed a patient. You can then be sued. This is bad for your career as well as your patient’s life. Holding the chest piece between your first two fingers gives you the best sound quality. Holding the stethoscope chest piece with the other fingers can be uncomfortable and unproductive.

Make sure that the chest pieces are not blocked or touching anything other than the patient’s skin. This too can affect sound quality. Placing the chest piece about six inches about the heart will give you maximum hearing quality to listen to your patient’s heart. When you listen to the lungs, make sure to press the chest piece firmly against the patients back. Having the patient breath deeply can help the doctor find out if the patient has fluid in the lungs.