Why Doctors Still Need Stethoscopes

May 10, 2016

(The Atlantic) – Indeed, for many doctors (myself included), the stethoscope exam has become more ceremony than utility. A colleague, considered one of the best clinicians in the hospital, recently asked me if he could borrow my stethoscope for his clinic. He’d left his in the car. I confessed that I was using an isolation stethoscope, which is a flimsy, disposable, toy-like stethoscope that the hospital stocks for patients who are on isolation for infectious reasons. A doctor could put one end of a paper towel roll against a patient’s chest and the other end against his or her ear and get roughly the same level of auscultation as these isolation stethoscopes provide.