Guide: The Best Stethoscope for the Job
It might be hard for your family and friends to understand that there is more to the venerable stethoscope than “playing doctor.” While the basic goal with each stethoscope is the same, listening to the heart and lungs, the means and details of that listening vary from job to job.
There is one more variable that matters even more. It’s what you think about the right stethoscope for your practice.
This blog can say which stethoscope should be the one you must have, but when it’s your instrument to use, it’s you who must be content with your decision. You may feel that your veterinary practice mandates you use a cardiologist’s stethoscope, so be it.
This is merely a guide created by a company that has been putting stethoscopes in the hands of medical professionals for decades. All that experience still doesn’t make us the end-all-be-all for your specific needs.
That stated this guide is an ideal place to start your investigation.
One more note...
Before you skip ahead to the section that best serves your purposes. The answer to the unasked question (which is the best brand?), is Littmann. They are the best all-around stethoscope manufacturers the world-round.
While there is some stiff competition across the board from companies we admire greatly, and from many who make quality stethoscopes themselves, Littmann wins accolades more often in more categories, hands down.
Best stethoscope for nurses
There’s a good reason we spend a lot of time on our nurses at Medshop. It's true that they are the hard-working bread and butter of our business, but they are also the ones putting us all back together when something goes awry… and something will always go awry.
For nurses, the choice is simple. The Classic III from Littmann is the best all-around stethoscope for most nurses. It’s the Toyota Hilux of stethoscopes, meeting the most needs in one package, but also taking the most abuse and still cleaning up like new.
Not to be confused with the Cardiology III, a slightly different instrument tuned more for detailed observation, the Classic III offers the same duel head advantage.
With the Classic III, you'll hear high and low frequency sounds without having to carry two tools, without fumbling around. For nurses, who are juggling about five-million tasks, this reliability is priceless.
In fact, nurses aren't alone in appreciating the security of the Classic III as we'll find in just a second.
Best stethoscope for doctors
While the aforementioned Cardiology III might do the trick for many doctors, the unbeatable standard for doctors is the one used by cardiologists: Littmann’s Cardiology IV.
In fact, categorically, this section is probably the most wasted “ink” in this blog as most doctors and cardiologists know this without needing to do research. They aren’t reading this blog because the reputation of the Cardiology IV procedes itself.
For the rest of us who wonder what all the fuss is about, the value comes down to a matter of sensitivity. No other stethoscope, not even the Welch Allyn Harvey Elite can pick up auscultation details made clear by Littmann’s Cardiology IV.
Best stethoscope for medical students
Alright, so this is the category where picking the best gets a little shakier than the first two sections above.
In that spectrum between the ideal stethoscope on paper and one's personal preferences, two options fall somewhere in the comfortable middle.
Consider the Cardiology IV if you’re not on a tight budget or if you can’t get that wealthy relative to chip in for your future. Of course, as students often don't have large budgets so the classic III makes a worthy choice.
Best stethoscope for paramedics
For the medical professionals who aren’t happy savings lives unless there is a street race involved (kidding, kidding, kidding… sort of) the Classic III is the way to go.
Paramedics won’t necessarily benefit from the precision of Cardio IV to warrant that level of exactness, even though it’s a tough enough tool to do the job.
The Classic III is the best option for ambulance drivers for all the same reasons it’s the best option for nurses. It’s versatile, tough, and accurate.
The stainless steel chest piece of the Classic III means it will not only take being dropped with a shrug, but it will clean up with little effort.
Littmann didn’t skimp on comfort with this workhorse either. Users love them for the snap-tight ear tips, which are not only a snug seal but a comfy fit too.
Best veterinary stethoscope
Speaking of our veterinarian professionals, there is only one vet stethoscope in our lineup for a reason. There is none more ideal.
The Littmann Classic Vetscope simplifies the most valuable aspects of what Littmann knows about listening into a package that they’ve designed for many different bodies. It’s not ideal for smaller animals, but it works like a champ for medium to large animals.
Littmann's Vetscope’s tunable diaphragm alternates between low and high frequencies so there’s no need for flipping the chest piece. You can get in, get your data, and then get out.
Visits to the vet are stressful enough for our furry friends. The smoother you can be, the better. And, of course, it's Littmann-tough.
Littmann took the design a step further and made the chest piece non-chilling so nobody has to lose a tooth when the patient’s head rears back suddenly. They might prefer inspections, but it doesn't have to be a shocking experience on top of it all.Put it this way, less shock means less anxiety on the next visit. How would you feel about the matter?
Best paediatric stethoscope
What then, is the right stethoscope for the smallest and most valuable patients among us? There’s no question that Littmann rules this blog, and this category is no exception.
The Classic II Paediatric does the job just fine. It’s the same technology as the normal Classic II, but the Paediatric version is a little smaller to accommodate small chests.
As such, it’s a two-bell instrument, with a non-chill rim on the smallest size for all the obvious reasons. (See end of the previous section if you're confused.)
It’s possible to find other stethoscopes which do some of the things the II Paediatric does, but none that do it all in one package.
If this blog didn't address your specific needs, please don't hesitate to contact us for advice. We're all about getting you in the right stethoscope. It saves us both potential stress in the long run.
One more thing...
For those readers who have friends and family that are the fancy gift-giving sort, this is the perfect time to share this blog with them. You never know when someone is going to get that gift-giving spirit so you always want to make sure they are empowered with all your hopes and dreams.
It might also be a good idea to remind said family and friends of your favourite colours too… just in case.