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Stethoscope Buying Guide | Hopkins Medical Products

Stethoscopes Are as Essential as Ever

At over 200 years old, the stethoscope is looking good for its age.

An icon of the healthcare industry, it's no wonder it's held up so well over the years. Even with technological advances that have paved the way for new equipment, the stethoscope is still considered a medical necessity by nurses and many other healthcare professionals. It is one of the most important and frequently used point-of-care devices.

There are several considerations that should factor into any stethoscope purchase, including, but not limited to, price, sound quality, weight, and infection-control properties.

We have compiled this Stethoscope Buying Guide for nurses and other healthcare professionals to help them make as informed a buying decision as possible. Check out these popular stethoscope types, their pros, cons, and what sets them apart from each other.

Acoustic Stethoscope

Acoustic Stethoscopes


  • The most common and popular of stethoscopes styles, the analog stethoscope is ideal for general, daily use


  • A low sound level can sometimes make it difficult for professionals to hear during use

Electronic Stethoscope

Electronic Stethoscopes


  • These extremely versatile stethoscopes use electricity to amplify to sounds for better sound quality use


  • Costlier, heavier, and more difficult to carry around throughout the day; require batteries; vulnerable to picking up interference from other devices

Pediatric Stethoscope

Pediatric Stethoscopes


  • Comparably smaller size to accommodate smaller patients and make listening easier; won't pick up ambient noise like a poorly sized adult stethoscope might


  • Very specific, smaller-sized design can only be used with pediatric patients

Disposable Stethoscope

Disposable Stethoscopes


  • Designed to reduce cross-contamination risks (and potential HAIs); disposable stethoscopes also help reduce costs associated with stethoscope loss


  • Tend not to pick up sound as well as analog stethoscopes, therefore making it more likely that something could be missed during diagnosis