A stethoscope is like a must-have tool for all medical practitioners, and especially nurses. They need it to take periodical assessments on their patients. As a professional nurse, a top-quality stethoscope should be your top priority. I mean one that will guarantee you accurate auscultation and comfort when attending to your patients.
With myriad of brands in the market today, getting your desired stethoscope can be an uphill task. It is for that reason we have prepared a guide for new shoppers and those looking for a replacement of their old stethoscope. We have compared different brands and models to establish the best from this large pool. Whether your hospital requires you to have your own stethoscope or you have just decided to get your own for purposes of convenience, this guide will help you.
Anatomy of a Stethoscope
Even though there are different stethoscope models and brands, their major parts are all the same except in capabilities. To better understand this crucial tool, lets deep into its components;
This is a plastic or rubber made seals that connect to the tubing of the stethoscope. They are tight to increase the safety and durability of the tubing. They can be small or large, varying from black to grey color depending on the model. Even though it’s a small part, it plays a critical role in providing perfect acoustic.
This is the circular part of the chest piece that makes auscultation of a patient easy. It is designed to detect the high-frequency sounds in the body than the bell. Its wide size means a bigger portion of patient’s body can be assessed. With advancements, today’s diaphragms are designed to remove chill against the patient’s body. They also provide better hypoallergenic properties which lead to increased comfort and safety to patients.
This is the concentration point for sound waves emanating from the diaphragm or the bell. A chest piece can be single, double, or triple-headed.
It performs exactly the same function as the diaphragm. The differentiating factor is sound attunement. Unlike the diaphragm, the bell detects low-frequency sounds.
Stem acts as the point of connection for tubing and chest piece. In other models, it is used to adjust the valves in the chest piece. The valve selection will help you to choose between the diaphragm and the bell.
This is a flexible tube that connects the chest piece and the headset. The basic function of this part is to transmit the sound detected by the diaphragm or the bell to the earpiece. Some stethoscopes have one tube when others have two. The difference between the two is the quality of sound they offer. Dual lumen tubes provide higher quality sounds, and they are expensive.
Is there a Difference Between Cheap & Expensive Stethoscope?
Yes. The main difference is the quality of sound and comfort. The more expensive stethoscopes have more quality sound, which means better assessment. They also have better features that are not available in the cheap models. So, if you want a stethoscope with high functionalities and features, always be ready to pay the price.
Best 10 Stethoscope for Nurses
If you are in the race to get a stethoscope, look no further. The products listed below have been vetted and passed as top brands. The ranking is based on different factors such as affordability, specificity, portability among others. You can study the list and compare it with what you expect in your scope.
1. MDF Rose Gold MD One Dual Head Stethoscope
If you have practiced for long as a nurse, you must have seen quite a dozen of stethoscopes. Functionality remains the essential basic consideration to make when choosing your tool for everyday use. However, this doesn’t cancel out the elegance factor. MDF’S MD One is a combination of both higher performance and beauty with its rose gold coating.
It is a well-packaged and quality drenched luxury equipment with dual-head chest piece. These help to detect different frequencies. The extra-thick latex-free tubing adds to the store of positivity since it doesn’t wear out easily. Besides, this stethoscope has readily available replacement parts in case one breaks down. If you are fashion enthusiasts, the unique rose gold finish will give you that feel.
- Combines quality and elegance
- Made of a latex free tubing
- Very comfortable in the ear
- Has an ultrasensitive diaphragm
- When stained it’s very hard to clean
- The gold color fades with time and you can’t reclaim it
2. MDF Acoustica Deluxe Stethoscopes
This is a low budget stethoscope best for use outside critical environments. If that’s where your work is, and need a light weight stethoscope, this can make a great choice. One of its strengths is the long tubing which gives you desirable comfort when working on your patients.
Its tubes are made of PVC, which means they are durable. You don’t also have to worry about allergy as the materials cannot react with the skin.
To offer better flexibility, this stethoscope also comes with three different sized earpieces: Categorized into small, regular, and large. These make it a universal tool for anyone.
In terms of portability, it compares to none. After use, you can mold it into any shape to fit it wherever you want and when removed will automatically regain its shape.
- Lightweight and affordable
- You can mold to any shape hence highly portable
- Made of latex free PVC material
- Not allergic
- Comes with 3 pairs of earpieces
- The strong casing offers extra protection to the stethoscope
- Doesn’t give high quality sound
- Cannot be used in critical wards like ICU
- Has strong chemical odor
3. 3M LittmannMaster Cardiology Stethoscope, 27 inch, 2176
Master Cardiology Stethoscope 2176 is the newest addition to the Littmann’s catalog. This stethoscope boasts of high acoustics. It is best for cardiology nurses who need a full sound range to diagnose heart problems accurately.
Added to it is the Littman’s superior trademark of quality design and materials. It has a stainless-steel chest piece and snap-tight soft-sealing ear tips that increase quality sound.
Cardiologists who have used this stethoscope have given it resounding positive reviews about its sensitivity. It helps in the detection and differentiation of small sounds. Some claim it had helped them improve their partially impaired hearing.
- Has a tunable diaphragm
- Uses stainless steel chest piece
- Has a long tubing
- Top acoustic capability
- Lags behind in terms of versatility compared to Cardio IV
4. MDF Sprague Rappaport MDF767K-11 Dual Head Stethoscope
Looking for a versatile affordable scope? The Sprague Rappaport can be an awesome choice. Whether attending to infants, pediatric, or adults, this stethoscope offers you the switch mode to work with any of them. It is therefore a great cost-cutting model. Each double tube transmits sound to each ear, and the adjustable Accufit headset allows you to customize it for better hearing.
The earpieces are perfectly built to fit in comfortably. In case you need a replacement of any part, the Sprague offers a lifetime warranty. This is an excellent deal especially for nurses who don’t want to keep on purchasing new stethoscopes.
- It is very elegant
- It is multipurpose able to work with adults, infants and pediatrics
- Has life time spare parts replacement warranty
- Its dual lumen provides enough sound for analysis
- Not very accurate when working with patients with thick chests
- The gold plating fades with time
5. ADC AdscopeAdimals 618 Pediatric Clinician Stethoscope
For pediatricians and pediatric nurses, this is another awesome option. It is equipped with 7 different animal faces, to keep the babies entertained when assessing them.
Besides the unique design, this stethoscope has a traditional bell for comfort purposes. Its binaural are made of lightweight aluminum to prevent irritation when working. By altering the pressure, you can pick up both low and high frequency leaving space for snap on the animal emojis.
- It is equipped with ergonomic headset
- Lightweight with unique design
- It has silicon ear tips
- 7 animal heads to attract the attention of kid patients
- With time the tubing becomes dirty
- Short lifespan
6. 3M Littmann Stethoscope, Cardiology IV 6152
This stethoscope is designed to work in most critical and challenging environments such as ER, HDU, and ICU wards. These are places where you’ll have difficulties in examining your patients. Due to noises and others in critical conditions with faint pulses and movements, you’ll find it hard to hear. It is only via superior stethoscopes you can make an accurate assessment of your patients.
The Littmann Stethoscope, Cardiology IV6152, is capable of detecting seemingly minor changes in rhythm and tone. With it, you can hear quieter sounds from the heart that you can hardly hear with other equipment. The dual lumen tubing also plays a critical role in eliminating rumbling noise alongside snap-tight ear tips.
- Has a dual lumen chest piece
- Equipped with tunable diaphragm
- Also, has a flexible tubing which you can fold the way you want
- It is made of latex free materials.
- Has snap tight and soft sealing ear tips
- The tubing not so long
7. MDF Acoustica Deluxe Lightweight Dual Head StethoscopeMDF747XP-BO
The MDF Acoustica Deluxe MDF747XP-BO belongs to the category of affordable quality stethoscopes. Besides being a lightweight, it has all the necessary characteristics for acoustic lug diagnosis. If you are looking for a portable high-quality scope with varied earpieces, you have it here.
It has three soft silicone earpieces that guarantee comfort in the ear. To top it up is a long non-latex tubing which gives a gap between the nurse and the patient. It is outrageous how this stethoscope gives high-quality sound despite its budget range. You can also fold it to whichever shape and will regain its shape when you unfold.
- Its tubing is made of non-latex material
- It has 3 pairs of silicon earpieces
- Has a long tubing
- It gives high quality sound
- Has a short lifespan
8. 3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope
If you work with non-critical patients, either infants or adults, this is a good choice. The stethoscope is made of lightweight materials yet very strong. It has high acoustic sensitivity, no wonder many nurses and paramedics have given it many positive reviews.
When you compare it to most stethoscopes, its tubing is more durable. Also, its ability to resist skin oil and sweat lowers the chances of wearing out easily. It doesn’t easily pick stains – So the nurses who don’t fancy cleaning their tool now and then, this can make a good companion.
- It is lightweight
- Its tubing is durable
- It works both on both infants an adult
- Has high acoustic sensitivity
- It doesn’t pick stains easily
- It also comes with an engraving name plate
- Single lumen tubing
- Cannot work perfectly in noisy environments
9. Primacare DS-9290-BK Classic Series Adult Dual-Head Stethoscope
It is a dual-headed stethoscope for adult use only. Its features make it an excellent stethoscope for auscultation and monitoring blood pressure. The chrome-plated adjustable binaural and chest piece make it simple and easy to use stethoscope.
Also, if you want a lightweight and flexible scope you can consider this. You can use it comfortably for extended periods without irritation. Its single channel tubing makes it very portable such that you can carry it around even in the pocket.
- It’s a lightweight stethoscope
- Has an adjustable binaural
- It is comfortable in the ears
- It is not complicated
- It has a single channel tubing
- Has poor quality sound
10. White Coat Dual Head Professional Stethoscope
Made with quality materials, White Coat Dual Head Stethoscope is a good option for frontline nurses. Besides its durability, it also assures high accuracy in its sound capture.
To enhance the sound quality, this scope is made of thick walls. This means you’re assured of high sensitivity. Additionally, stainless steel is used to detect even minor sounds during the assessment. You can comfortably use it to listen to both heart and lungs when assessing their health conditions.
- Comes with its own sturdy carrying case and a penlight
- It is lightweight
- It is also made of quality materials
- It is expensive
- Has flimsy parts
Key Considerations Before Buying Stethoscope
Understanding the specific area where you want to use your stethoscope is very crucial. Definitely, the specialized stethoscopes offer more specific features and functionalities compared to the general ones. If you are working in pediatric wards, you’ll need a more acoustically powerful stethoscope to listen to faint sounds. That means going for a pediatric stethoscope. The same case applies when working in the cardiology wards etc.
Length of the Stethoscope
Especially when working with contagious patients, you may need to keep your face as far as possible. The longer the tubing also, the more freedom you’ll have when assessing your patients. Otherwise, you be bending a lot which is tiresome.
However, long tubing has a downside. The longer the tube, the poor the sound becomes. So, combining quality sound and long tube means a higher budget.
Make sure, depending on where you want to use your stethoscope; the diaphragm can pick the expected sound. For example, larger diaphragms are good for adult patients. So, if you work in pediatric wards, you’ll need a stethoscope with a slimmer diaphragm.
The bigger the stethoscope the better the results. However, you may have to endure a lot of weight to afford those results. Therefore, consider the weight you can carry, depending on your schedule and circumstances. Heavy stethoscopes are not good for people who spent most of their time standing or walking around with them.
The freedom to adjust your stethoscope’s headset means more comfort and flexibility. You can use different angles for better assessment and sound quality. You should therefore ensure this feature is available for better performance.
You don’t need a stethoscope that you’ll be struggling to hear. That’s why it’s imperative to ensure that you acquire acoustically well-equipped stethoscope. This is fundamental especially for pediatric nurses and those working in critical wards such as ICU and HDU.
Since these gadgets are expensive, you don’t want to be back in the shops within barely a year. You should therefore avoid stethoscopes made with latex tubing, which crack easily with exposure to warm environments. Also, for people who like hanging them on their necks, the resulting friction ends up cracking them. If you purchase such a stethoscope, you’ll be back to the market within a short while since few brands have spare parts.
If you work in areas with prevalent loss of stethoscopes, you’d rather be careful. That may not be the best time to purchase a flashy expensive stethoscope. Instead, you can go for the basic one as long as it can serve you well.
ER nurses are mostly victims of stethoscope loss. With the melee associated with some departments like ER, it is easy to place your stethoscope somewhere and forget. Other times people take advantage of the situation to steal such equipment.
To determine which brand is best for you, you may have to test the stethoscope one by one. As you do so, ensure that all the parts are properly attached and gauge the level of comfort they offer. The most popular brands are the 3M Littmann, Adscope, Welch Allyn and Prestige.
You can also ask for recommendations from your colleagues about the brands. They can offer you first-hand reviews and probably give you practical proofs. This can help greatly in getting the best stethoscope.
Whenever buying anything expensive and delicate such as this, warranty is very important. It gives you the freedom to return or get assistance with the item in case it malfunctions or breaks down. Whether purchasing your telescope online or from a physical shop, do your research to establish whether the manufacturer offers warranty.
Also, you need to read and understand all the terms of the warranty and consult where you don’t understand. In the case of shady clauses, you can avoid the brand altogether. If the product is quality, every manufacturer should be confident enough with it to grant a comprehensive warranty.
One thing is for sure, buying stethoscopes is a heavy investment undertaking. The good is that these gadgets last for years if you take good care of them. It’s upon you to allocate sufficient funds for a quality stethoscope that will serve you best.
The cost of a stethoscope ranges from $20 to $300 plus depending on their quality. If you cannot afford high-end ones for now, you can start with low budget stethoscopes and upgrade later. What you should be keen on is to ensure you get a device equivalent to your budget.
Where to Shop for Stethoscope?
Whenever deciding on which model to purchase, you should think of its availability. Some brands are good but may not be locally available. In such a case, you’ll need to order online (Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens) which may cost you more if the shipping cost is on you. Additionally, you need a local outlet where you can get spare parts such as tubing in case you need one.
Locally unavailable brands can pose a great challenge especially when you need assistance. Therefore, if you have alternatives, you can consider them.
How often should you replace your stethoscope?
Even though most stethoscopes do not have a specific period that you must replace them, most manufacturers recommend a two-year cycle. In such a case, if you know you are planning to replace yours occasionally, you should think of how. This means having a local agent, manufacturer or a reliable online supplier.
Online shops can pose a great challenge. For example, if you need a replacement and the company is not shipping within that period, what happens? For the sake of your future, you should think of how to get your subsequent stethoscopes. If you realize a supplier cannot be relied upon to deliver in the future, you’d rather change your mind.
Whether it’s your first time to shop for a stethoscope or out for a replacement, your options are never limited. Think of quality, your budget among other things, and get to our catalog. We have selected top brass stethoscopes based on different grounds such as functionalities, portability, and unique features.
Using this guide, you can be sure to get your dream stethoscope. Even if you are a starter in the nursing field, you shouldn’t freak. You have all the details right from the anatomy to preferred options that will set your career easily in motion.