A stethoscope is a medical tool used on a daily basis to make decisions on patients’ health. With technology rapidly evolving, this tool has undergone enormous changes. Some new stethoscope models in the market today are unknown to medics who shopped for this tool over five years ago. The only way you can get the best stethoscope that gives value for money is by researching.
Every physician’s needs are unique. So, even though referrals can be a good way to start, you still need to do your homework to find the right stethoscope for you.
Things to Consider When Shopping for a Stethoscope
There are different things you should consider when shopping for a stethoscope. I will highlight only five of the most important ones. You have a better chance of choosing the best scope by considering the following:1.
1. Reputation of the brand
The opinions of people about a particular brand speak volumes. If you are interested in a particular brand, find out from colleagues and friends who’ve used the stethoscope about their experience. Also read stethoscope reviews on blogs and forums to see what people are saying about that brand. You are likely to be more satisfied with a brand that many people praise than one with a lot of negative feedback.
2. Durability and Lifespan
Since you will use a stethoscope throughout your life as a medic, you need one that is durable. Students tend to choose cheap stethoscopes since they know they will buy new ones for residency programs and another when they start practicing. They don’t realize that buying cheap stethoscopes this is actually more expensive in the long run.
If your budget allow it, go for a product that will withstand tough times. The steth should withstand the pressure of being worn daily and the different weather conditions that you may be required to work under. If you buy a quality stethoscope, you will not have to purchase another one in a long time.
3. Quality of the Acoustic
Every patient’s health situation needs accurate diagnosis. The acoustic quality of the stethoscope will determine how clear you can hear body sounds and ultimately how fast you can examine your patient.
Depending on your work department, you may require a better or lesser quality steth than another clinician. For example, while obstetricians and cardiologists need to hear nuances of auscultation, high and low pitches and clearly defined extremely sensitive sounds, nurses only listen to general sounds.
4. Suitability for Your Needs
Generally, medics that work in critical care units require high quality stethoscopes. These include medics in the military field, urban center EMT medics, and cardiac medics. The stethoscope needs of these doctors cannot be compared with those of ENT doctors or nurses.
There are also physicians that need even more specialized stethoscopes. Examples of specialized steths are neonatal or pediatric stethoscopes. These steths should have a smaller head than those for adults or veterinary use. Obstetricians need to cone-shaped, poniard-head steths to listen to fetal sounds.
You should have your particular intended use in mind when choosing a stethoscope.
Most often, sellers quote stethoscope prices depending on the brand. Whereas a brand can have good quality steths and therefore be higher priced, this is not the case in all situations. When you know your specific usage needs, you can pay for exactly what you need. It is impractical to pay for a high quality cardiac stethoscope when you are nurse working in adult care units. Be sure that the device you are paying for provides value for money.
Best Stethoscope Brands
Even with the over hundred stethoscope brands in the market, there are only 4 reputable manufacturers. These four manufacturers have unique product features, reputation and price. Here are the four brands you should look out for while shopping for a stethoscope.
Launched in 1998 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ultra-Scope manufactures some of the best stethoscopes in the market. The brand’s headquarters is in North Carolina, where its steths are also manufactured. The company’s main goal is to deliver good quality “every man’s” stethoscope at a fair price.
If you want a brand that produces quality steths that are affordable, this is your brand. Ultra-scope stethoscopes are unique for their single-sided head rather than their dual head. These can be accessorized with brand-produced crystal charms. You can also personalize your steth by getting a color, logo or pattern of your choice.
Ultra-Scope manufactures six standard stethoscopes and two teaching devices. For between $89.99 to $89.99 , you can get a stethoscope with a lifetime warranty. The steths are packaged with free diaphragms, ear tips, and retaining rings. You can also buy replacement parts separately.
Loyal customers of this brand love the scopes for their aesthetic beauty more than their performance.
Reviews of Ultrascope Stethoscopes
Here is a paraphrased review of a customer that bought UltraScope stethoscopes on Amazon:
“I purchased this for my daughter who is attending a Technical College studying to be a Veterinary Technician. She is very pleased with the quality of sound and the style. She received oohs and aahs from students and professor as well.”
Very few customers complain of this brand on Amazon (read reviews). One user, for example, complained that their steth came defected, twisted and scratched.
Welch Allyn was started in 1915 as an ophthalmoscopes business with a number of eye diagnostic devices. Years later, it expanded to manufacture stethoscopes and other medical equipment.
The unique feature of Welch Allyn stethoscopes is their one-time use (disposable stethoscopes). The steths are mainly meant to be used on patients with highly infectious diseases. For only $34.10 , hospitals and other healthcare systems purchase these steths to help prevent infectious diseases from spreading.
Welch Allyn stethoscopes are of medium quality and can be used by cardiologists and also for general use. Loyal medics of the Elite Harvey and Harvey DLX lines of this brand love them for being cost effective and dependable.
Customers also buy Welch Allyn stethoscopes due to the company’s repair services. The company normally offers free replacement models to customers while they are servicing the malfunctioning one. When you have Welch Allyn stethoscopes, you will not have to borrow another scope to use when yours is being repaired.
For between $63.43 and $235.00 , you can get one of this brand’s quality steths with warranty that covers design defects and manufacturing. At the company’s website, you can also purchase equipment, repair services or order replacement parts.
Welch Allyn Stethoscope Reviews
Here is one paraphrased customer review of Welch Allyn stethoscope from Amazon
“I have tried a number of stethoscopes in the past, including Littmann Master cardiology III. To be honest, I have to say this is without a doubt the clearest and loudest stethoscope I have ever used. With these stethoscopes, you can keep a true bell while having an adult size diaphragm and peds.”
Read more customer reviews of the Welch Allyn stethoscope on Amazon
The MDF brand is a boutique designer that has been manufacturing steths and other healthcare devices since 1971. Headquartered in Los Angeles, this brand is famous for its excellent quality stethoscopes that are sold at affordable prices.
MDF stethoscopes are manufactured in Asia and this explains why they are sold at as low as Out of stock . The stethoscopes are affordable for teaching and assisting physicians and even students. More specialized quality scopes like cardiology stethoscopes are sold at about $139.99 .
The organization is active in providing medical equipment and steths to charitable organizations and NGOs in the healthcare. MDF has a free-parts-for-life program and the lifetime warranty for its products.
MDF stethoscopes are often given a star rating of 4.5 or 5 out of 5. Their biggest competitor is the Littmann.
Although MDF offers great service, verified buyers say their stethoscopes are of lower quality than the Littmann brand. MDF stethoscopes are great for basic or short term use.
MDF Stethoscope Reviews
Here is a paraphrased review of MDF stethoscope from Amazon, You can read more reviews here.
“Absolutely love this stethoscope. Although it is a little on the heavy side, it works great and the sound it transmits is a great crisp quality.”
Dr. Littman’s original patents gave this company an edge over other steth companies. For about $45.88 , you can get a bottom-range quality product and for $202.00 , get high quality products. Littmann stethoscope models cover everyone in the healthcare industry, from nurses to students to specialized doctors like neonatal doctors.
Depending on the model, warranty is given for up to 7 years. The average warranty is 3 years. The warranty covers material and manufacturing defects and free repairs. However, you have to purchase the parts from a licensed retailer or online. 3M also sells accessories that you can use to personalize your stethoscope.
Littmann Stethoscope Reviews
Below are two paraphrased customer reviews of the Littmann stethoscope taken from Amazon. You can read more Amazon reviews here.
“I purchased this stethoscope from Amazon and gave it to my wife as a gift. It simply does not work and is not returnable since I had it for over 30 days. Now I am forced to deal with the manufacturer’s warranty policy. Nothing but a problem. Please learn by my mistake and purchase from a local dealer and pay the extra five dollars.”
“I didn’t buy mine from Amazon this time but I always look at reviews here before buying something so I thought I’d write one for this place to help others out. I’ve had my scope for about 2 weeks now and it has performed exactly how I’d expect a Littmann scope would: wonderfully. Sounds are clear and loud, the tubing is a pleasing length. I have no complaints at all about its performance.”
Exploring the above stethoscope brands in depth will help you in narrow down the best choices for you. Since every medic’s need is different, a steth or brand that is right for another may not necessarily be right for you. Your expected duties should help you determine the type of scope and brand to buy.
Follow the guide above to get the best stethoscope for you.