How Do I Choose the Best Stethoscope For Me? – What to Look Out for
When buying the most essential instrument of your medical career, it’s imperative to find a stethoscope that doesn’t just work, but makes auscultation a far better experience for you and your patients. There’s a perfect MDF stethoscope out there for your profession, whether it’s for Cardiology, ER, EMT/EMS, Nursing, Pediatrics, Student, Physician or Veterinary needs. Choosing the right stethoscope could optimize your patient care by having the most precise tool, assisting with accurate diagnoses for the rest of your career. On the other hand, a poorly crafted stethoscope could lead to countless replacements, or even worse, unknowingly providing an inaccurate auscultation to your patients.
Selecting the right stethoscope for you should go beyond brand names, price, and hearsay. To find the best stethoscope for you, it would be wise to consider all of the components that make up a stethoscope.
CHESTPIECE: Look for a complete construction in high-density materials, such as stainless steel or titanium. Harder materials will conduct better sound than softer, more porous metals such as aluminum. Additionally, a chestpiece that not only has a hand-polished finish on the outside, but also inside is ideal. A chestpiece that is unfinished internally has perforations and can absorb sound (much like a ceiling would). A hand-polished and smooth chestpiece offers a much clearer and crisper sound.
HEADSET: Optimally, the headset should be the same high-density material as the chestpiece and angled at 15° as a standard. Just as you would want the highest sealing and amplifying acoustics on your chestpiece, you want the same quality metals to transmit sounds to your headset. Be cautious on which materials are used for both headset and chestpiece, as the description of your stethoscope may only include the material of the chestpiece.
DIAPHRAGM: Look for a high-quality and durable diaphragm. It would be advantageous to have extra in case of a puncture or other mishaps.
TUBING: You should select a stethoscope that has thick and durable tubing to isolate acoustics from external noise and insulate the sound – thin or tubing prone to breakage can lead to loss of sound. Some tubing will be longer than others to maintain a safer distance from patient to physician. Sound could be compromised with longer tubing, so be sure to find a stethoscope that can compensate the length with thicker tubing and chestpieces and headsets made with quality metals.
EARTIPS: Eartips may seem like an afterthought when selecting a stethoscope, but they are actually quite crucial in providing accurate readings. Eartips should fit securely and comfortably inside the ear, and preferably offered in various sizes for comfort. Not only should eartips be comfortable, it should create a seal inside your ear to prevent external sound from seeping through. For eartips, size and materials matter.
STEM: Even the stem on a stethoscope makes a difference! For the most premium sound experience, you would want a stem that is constructed in the same quality metal as your chestpiece. Don’t overlook this small detail, a great stem is precisely designed and needs to “snap” into place to reduce sound leakage.
Where to Get a Stethoscope
Why choose an MDF Instruments® Stethoscope?
First and foremost, MDF Instruments completely manufactures our own stethoscopes. That means the high-quality manufactured instruments (as quality control is in our hands), cheaper prices for our consumers, and unprecedented warranties.
CHESTPIECE: An MDF Instruments® chestpiece has a hand polished finish – both inside and outside, and a fixed diaphragm that is simple and accurate. MDF utilizes metals such as stainless steel in our chestpieces, but also offers stethoscopes in varying metals for more economical and disposable versions.
HEADSET: Patented ErgonoMax™ headset is angled at 15° and adjustable for a precise and comfortable fit. Like our chestpieces, we handcraft our headsets in the highest quality metals available.
DIAPHRAGM: A fixed diaphragm eliminates the guesswork between hearing high and low frequency sounds. Tunable diaphragms seem ideal, but determining the right amount of pressure to read different frequencies can be an arbitrary process and can lead to misdiagnoses. A fixed diaphragm allows the user to utilize the diaphragm for high frequency sounds and the bell for low frequency.
TUBING: MDF’s thick and dense tubing blocks out external ambient noise and protects the integrity of the sounds you want to hear. Additionally, the tubing is longer than most other stethoscopes allowing for a safer distance between physician and patient. MDF is able to utilize longer tubing because the quality of metals used in the headset and chestpiece as well as the extra thick tubing make up for the length of the tubing.
EARTIPS: MDF eartips are made from silicone for a comfortable, snug fit. They seal in sound and are also clear to help indicate when ear tips need to be cleaned. Additionally, MDF includes two spare eartips for every stethoscope (as well spare diaphragms and an ID tag) and provides free replacement eartips in small, medium and large sizes.
Patented SafetyLock™ eartip adaptors protect eardrums from getting punctured in the case that the headset is inserted without eartips. Your safety is our concern!
ACOUSTIC VALVE STEM: MDF utilizes the same high quality metals in our chestpieces and headsets in our acoustic valve stem. Utilizing the same quality of metal in the chestpiece and the stem minimizes wear and tear, as both pieces are constructed with metals of the same density. Additionally, a green dot is marked on every stem to remind the user which side of the chestpiece is live – no more tapping!
All of MDF stethoscopes (excluding the single use scope, Singularis, which has a two-year warranty) comes with a life-time warranty for registered users. The warranty even includes tubing!
All registered users are given Free-Parts-For-Life! Eartips, retaining rings, non-chill rings, diaphragms, and ID tags replacements are completely free (that’s right – we’ll ship you replacements free of charge)! All you have to do is register your product here: https://www.mdfinstruments.com/customer/account/create/
How Much is a Quality Stethoscope?
Depending on your needs, stethoscopes can range from $15 to several hundred dollars. For cardiology models that require more sophisticated design and premium materials, stethoscopes can cost up to $600. Again, do not be fooled by expensive models and be careful to look at the actual stethoscope’s specifications.
More economical versions are available for students, but students should still be cognizant of the materials used in their stethoscopes. Many students sacrifice the quality of their stethoscope during school, but a great stethoscope is even more essential in a learning environment! Imagine trying to learn how to listen to specific heart sounds on a stethoscope that simply is inadequate- it would make learning these intricate sounds even more difficult. For students it’s best to learn with the greatest!