Tuesday, March 18, 2014

2185 Staphoscope

Here's another thing to fear about going to the doctor. Getting even sicker. And not just in the way you think.

We've known for years that one of the biggest vectors of disease distribution is doctors offices and hospitals. Other patients that were sick spreading what they were sick of to various surfaces. From there patient and persistent viruses and bacteria wait to be picked up by the next patch of skin resting on it or brushing against it. 

Or the technician that comes in, gloves up, then proceeds to tap out something on a computer keyboard before she or he pops a tongue depressor or naked thermometer into your infection susceptible moist tissues.

Sometimes I get the feeling health workers, like food handlers, think the latex gloves actually kill bacteria and viruses, or just block them from getting sick. Screw the patient.

Anyhow, the newest device to be afraid of is in the hands of your actual doctor. While most of the instruments he wields have plastic covers or have been through a powerful sterilizing device known as an autoclave, his most ancient instrument has been ignored.

The thing he wears around his neck like a symbol of his medieval profession. The Stethoscope. 

Yep, researchers found that the diaphragm of the stethoscope, that round cold disk your doctor presses to your chest and back, can become filthy with antibiotic-resistant bacteria like the deadly MRSA. 

So when you talk to your physician about that next batch of drugs you saw on TV you think you should try, you might ask if he or she's cleaned that icky stethoscope before it touches your skin.

"You look healthy young fella, now breath deep while I apply some bacteria and a couple of viruses to your chest..." 

America, ya gotta love it. 

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