Doctors and nurses scrupulously wash their hands, disinfect tools and dispose of single-use products between patients in an effort to prevent infections.
But what about that device that hangs around their necks and touches patient after patient, many times without being washed at all?
Although there’s no direct evidence linking stethoscope bacteria to hospital-acquired infections, there is research demonstrating that most stethoscopes harbor potential pathogens, and they can transfer certain bacteria to the skin.
Dr. Kevin Trice, a pulmonary and critical care physician in Cleveland, thinks he has a solution. About a year ago, Trice founded Pulmonary Apps LLC to commercialize a disposable, wireless stethoscope that allows for continuous monitoring of the lungs and also reduces the risk of infection.
The device uses disposable sensors containing a small microphone, amplifier and wireless transmitter that are attached to the body. Those sensors detect sounds from the lungs and connect to a bedside monitor, smartphone or computer and allow for real time, continuous monitoring by healthcare providers.
Doctors and nurses can use the same device, and they can track data over time to help make better medical decisions, he said.
A functional prototype has been developed, and clinical testing for safety and efficacy will begin soon, Trice said. The hope is that the device can be in hospitals by January 2014. An app for consumer use is also in development, he said.
He explains the technology in the video below from today’s Northeast Ohio Entrepreneur Expo.