Letters to the Editor — May 25, 2020

Watch the stethoscope

We (Dr. T.V. Devarajan, Dr. S.P. Thiagarajan and I) write to draw the attention of health workers, nurses and medical personnel to the potential role of the stethoscope as a carrier of infections particularly in periods of epidemics, viral or bacterial.

Many years ago, in the 1970s, we did a study in the Government Stanley Hospital, Madras, on the subject of the potential infectivity of the stethoscope by taking swabs from its different parts — the diaphragm, bell, ear knobs, etc. We also took up the stethoscopes of physicians, surgeons and their juniors for study, also including the period of usage and the habit of cleansing the stethoscope, diaphragm and other parts. Organisms found on the diaphragm were skin inhabitants, occasionally staphylococci and others such as coliform etc, but not typhoid or Tubercle bacilli.

In the present episode of the novel coronavirus pandemic, it is quite important to cleanse the stethoscope diaphragm apart from sanitising other objects such as door knobs and washing hands, as usual. The problem in the use of alcohol-containing sanitisers on the diaphragm of the stethoscope repeatedly is that it may soften the diaphragm and it may be a less effective conductor of heart and lung sounds, etc. The diaphragm may require replacement from time to time, or any other modality of cleansing may be resorted to. In fact after every use, the diaphragm of the stethoscope should be cleaned during this epidemic.

In the study mentioned above, the bell of the stethoscope did not show any infectivity. However, the bell of the stethoscope is rarely used in practice today. Caution in the use of this valuable instrument in the investigation and management of COVID-19 is necessary because the medical equipment itself may transmit the virus.

Dr. K.V. Thiruvengadam,


China and the world

It is not just India but the entire world that must keep its mind on China. Its growth rate may be down in the immediate term but in no way does it seem to be enfeebled by its encounter with the novel coronavirus. On the contrary, the rest of the world has gone into a phase of long economic struggle.

This puts China right at pole position in terms of world affairs and commerce. A withdrawn and confused United States, also crippled by the virus, only adds to the uncertainty.

With its tryst with self-inflicted wounds continuing unabated, India now looks like the India of the 1950s, totally resource-starved for the challenges and needs ahead. It has no depth of breath even to sniff the opportunities that would arise (Editorial page, “China, better prepared for the post-COVID world”, May 21).

M. Balakrishnan,


Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 13, 2020 6:54:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/letters-to-the-editor-may-25-2020/article31665953.ece

Next Story