Prototype electronic stethoscope vs conventional stethoscope for auscultation of heart sounds

Daniel A. Kelmenson, Janae K. Heath, Stephanie A. Ball, Haytham M.A. Kaafarani, Elisabeth M. Baker, Daniel D. Yeh, Edward A. Bittner, Matthias Eikermann, Jarone Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In an effort to decrease the spread of hospital-acquired infections, many hospitals currently use disposable plastic stethoscopes in patient rooms. As an alternative, this study examines a prototype electronic stethoscope that does not break the isolation barrier between clinician and patient and may also improve the diagnostic accuracy of the stethoscope exam. This study aimed to investigate whether the new prototype electronic stethoscope improved auscultation of heart sounds compared to the standard conventional isolation stethoscope. In a controlled, non-blinded, cross-over study, clinicians were randomized to identify heart sounds with both the prototype electronic stethoscope and a conventional stethoscope. The primary outcome was the score on a 10-question heart sound identification test. In total, 41 clinicians completed the study. Subjects performed significantly better in the identification of heart sounds when using the prototype electronic stethoscope (median=9 [7-10] vs 8 [6-9] points, p value <0.0001). Subjects also significantly preferred the prototype electronic stethoscope. Clinicians using a new prototype electronic stethoscope achieved greater accuracy in identification of heart sounds and also universally favoured the new device, compared to the conventional stethoscope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-310
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Medical Engineering and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Hospital-acquired infection
  • ICU
  • Infection control
  • Physical exam
  • Stethoscope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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