A study out of Switzerland, as reported by NBC, notes that stethoscopes are generally more germ laden than the doctor's hands.
What with providing commercial janitorial service to a large number of health care facilities (and what with occasionally visiting my own doctor - and his stethoscope), the topic got my attention. Seems that the stethoscope is fine if disinfected between patients, but (at least in Switzerland) it's business end is generally disinfected less than....monthly. The study particularly traced the superbug MRSA, with which you do not want to cultivate an intimate relationship. MRSA is methicillin-resistant Staphyloccocus aureus, a staph infection that is resistant to most common antibiotics.
Our own procedures, on those surfaces for which we are responsible, include touchpoint sanitation throughout the facility, using a hydrogen peroxide-based cleaner/sanitizer with a microfiber wipe; full disinfection of restrooms, lunchrooms and exam rooms with a hospital grade, quaternary ammonia product; HEPA filters on vacuums used on both carpet and tile; gloves for our crew in restrooms and in healthcare facilities generally; training in hazmat and bodily fluid procedures; blacklight inspections by both line and supervisory personnel to identify bodily fluid remnants, and so on.
And they say we janitors are careless.
On the other hand, one of my favorite Wall Street Journal cartoons, from some years back, has a physician seated at his desk, speaking into the same business end of the stethoscope: "No, I don't need a home equity loan, but I am curious as to how you were able to reach me on my stethoscope."
When I figure that one out, it will revolutionize my marketing.