Medical professionals assess sounds of internal organs using stethoscopes.
Medical professionals assess sounds of internal organs using stethoscopes.

Health care professionals routinely use stethoscopes during examination of patients in hospitals and clinics. Stethoscopes can detect abnormal sounds of the heart, lung and abdominal organs. The tubing material on stethoscopes is made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which tends to harden over time because of contact with lipids found in human skin. Although some medical professionals find that rubbing a vinyl protectant on the tubing once a month helps reduce the stiffening effect, many stethoscope manufacturers advise against using oils or solvents.

Limit the time you spend wearing your stethoscope. Instead of wearing it around your neck all day, wear your stethoscope only when assessing your patient’s vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate).

Wear your stethoscope under your collar flap. If you must wear your stethoscope all day, it helps to wear a lab coat with a collar so the stethoscope rests on the fabric and avoids contact with your skin.

Purchase a stethoscope slipcover, which comes in a variety of fabrics. You can buy these specially designed covers at your local medical uniform store or equipment supply store. The covers protect the tubing from hardening from prolonged skin contact.