Watch out! A doctor’s trusty stethoscope may not be as safe as you think. After an examination, the device’s diaphragm—the circular piece placed on patients’ skin—becomes more contaminated than a physician’s own palms, according to a study published online today in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. The researchers are advising stethoscopes be considered an extension of a doctor’s hands and be sterilized after each use to prevent bacterial transmission and further illness.
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