Stethescope Comparison

  1. Is it true that you get what you pay for with a stethescope, or are they all the same? what do you use?
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  2. 27 Comments

  3. by   TazziRN
    I've used Spragues and Littmans in the past, I have a Prestige now. Each one has lasted me several years. I don't need anything fancy, just need something to hear with.
  4. by   wannabemw
    Personally I love my Cardiac model Littmann. I chose it b/c I could hear well w/it. I spent a little more, but love it! I have had other people use it (w/me standing by-I paid $85 for it & hear that they disappear) & they say they will go out & get one. Also, when looking @ a backup an old nurse told me Littmann is the best. She said just get mine engraved & purchase a cheaper Littman for backup, as mine really needs a cleaning & Littmann does it free! I LOVE MY ENGRAVED stethescope! Now I just need to get RN engraved as I passed NCLEX last month!

    ~MJ, RN!


    PS- not to be bias or anything about Littmann, so get what you can hear with & you will be happy! Also- pick a color you like!
    Last edit by wannabemw on Jan 11, '07 : Reason: additional info
  5. by   jimthorp
    I bought a cheap Sprague for school and used it for almost a year on the job. I found some people's BP difficult to auscultate and quiet lungs sounds difficult as well. I bought a Littmann Classic II ($50 on eBay) and can hear much better with it. It's also lighter.
    Last edit by jimthorp on Jan 11, '07
  6. by   checkmate
    What type of maintenance is necessary, how often should it be done, and finally how do you know when it's time to replace? do they wear out?
  7. by   Katnip
    It varies. Some people will be happy with one type of scope, and others will hate it. It depends a lot on your personal ear anatomy.

    As far as taking care of it, just keep it clean. You aren't supposed to hang the Littman around your neck because the oils can make it get stiff.

    They don't really need a lot of care. I've been told to use either armor-all or even vasline once a year or so on it. I do know with Littman if you need refurbishment it costs something like $70 to have the tubing replaces and everything cleaned. That's for the Cardiology model.
  8. by   styRN
    Maintenance is simple with cleaning with alcohol, soaking the earpieces and the occasional rub down with armour-all to keep the tubing pliable.
    A well-maintained scope will last decades.

    As for price/quality, you do get what you pay for, but it also doesn't make sense to buy them if you keep losing them (a colleauge has terrible luck with some Docs walking away with them all the time). Highly recommended that you get it engraved.

    I prefer Littmanns tunable diaphragm, particularly the Master Classic II with the single-sided chestpiece for low & high frequency sounds.
  9. by   styRN
    I wouldn't recommend vaseline to clean - the oil base could break down the rubber.
  10. by   marilynmom
    This really seems to vary. Some are happy with their cheapo sprauges. Some can only use a Littman.

    I have the Littman Cardio III and love it. But before that I did use a sprauge and though it was fine for basic nursing stuff...but I DID have problems with it at times hearing bowel and heart sounds honestly so I had no move up.

    Personally, I would start cheap and see if that works for you, if not you didn't waste much money (about $15) and can always get a better one.
  11. by   rehab nurse
    Have you tried listening to different models? I have friends/docs who had the cheaper Littman's (the light, cardio II (?), cardiology III, master cardiology). i preferred the Cardiology III. I hate the sprague and very cheap types (hurt my ears and I can't hear anything). The Littman has the very nice soft earpieces, and they seal the ear for me to get rid of background noise and are gentle on my ear. My ear actually bled from those sprague type stethoscopes in school!!! Ouch!!!

    A new find of mine is the Ultrascopes. They are very cute, come in all kinds of colors and designs in the diaphragm. I have a pink one with a stick figure nurse in it. LOL. It's got the same acoustics (to me, anyway) as my plain black Littman. Everyone comments on the Ultrascope (cause it's cute and different). LOL...I even had our medical director wanting to borrow it, and the patients just thought this 70 year old MD looked great with a Hot Pink stethoscope around his neck!!! He said he wanted one (not a pink one, though...darn it) too.

    If you ever get a chance to listen with a Ultrascope, I highly recommend it!!! (And no, I dont work for Ultrascope or Littman! )

    Good Luck finding one that works for you and your ears! There was a nice thread here not too long ago, with some tricks on how to mark your stethoscope so you can know it's yours from quite far away. I know from experience that even engraved, labeled, and marked Littmans get stolen. In fact, the 3 stethoscopes I *did* have marked all were stolen by some agency nurses a couple years ago. I still have my unmarked ones now. That's why I don't let anyone borrow anymore (I made one exception for the MD who had an emergency with no scope...but I never left his side). My advice would be to get a hip/waist clip and keep your scope there unless it's in your ears. Don't borrow it!!!!
  12. by   MickyB-RN
    I've had a Littman's Master Cardiology for 4 years now. I keep a stethoscope cover over the tubing.
    I have no experience with the ultrascopes but have read around here that some prefer those over Littman's. I think you have to try one and see what suits you and your needs best. hth's
  13. by   mamason
    I prefer Littmann. I hear better with them. I have had cheaper steth's and they usually stopped working for some reason. LIttmann seems durable and you can hear low and high frequency sounds with them. Last place I worked, it was stolen, along with several other nurses' stethescopes. Pretty bad when you can set it down for a minute to go to the bathroom. Another reason why I don't work there anymore..LOL...
  14. by   EXmpFUTURErn
    Okay- so I've been reading up on stethescopes. I want a littman, but I am on a small budget. I've never worked in the medical field before, and starting school in the fall for RN. I've been debating over which scope to get. There's the master classic 2, classic 2, lightweight, cardio 3, and master cardio. For someone who has never worked in the medical field, I've been told to get a cheapy just to get through school. I like having top of the line things. My theory is, if I pay the money the first time around for the excellent, less money waisted down the road.

    I am on a fixed income though, and I've found a website where the cardio 3 is 124.99 (not including shipping), the master cardio is 138.99, lightweight is 37.99, classic 2 is 60.99, and the master classic 2 is 71.99. I'm trying to keep it under $100.00 but having trouble deciding which one to get. If anyone could help me out a little better, I would appreciate it.

    I know they all have soft-sealing eartips (which I heard is the only way to go) and some are 28" and some are 27".

    Please help. Anyone?

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