EMT’s & Paramedics often find themselves working in noisy environments where owning a quality stethoscope with good sound auscultation and frequency range is extremely important.
The build quality and durability of a stethoscope can have a large impact on being able to identify & interpret a patients vital signs and medical condition, therefore choosing the right stethoscope for the job can significantly improve the speed and accuracy at which an EMT/Paramedic can perform their duties.
Finding the perfect stethoscope can take a lot of time so we’ve done the research to help you quickly choose a stethoscope that works for you with our top 5 stethoscopes for EMT’s and Paramedics. These reviews are based on the average customer review, build quality, functionality, sound auscultation and price of numerous stethoscopes available on the market.
1. 3M Littmann Cardiology III Stethoscope
Starting off our list is the 3M Litmann Cardiology III Stethoscope, which happens to be one of the most popular stethoscope among some EMT’s/Paramedics circles and is an extremely well received stethoscope among other healthcare professionals as well.
This top of the line stethoscope features a dual sided chest piece with two adjustable diaphragms for excellent all-around sound auscultation for both adult and pediatric patients and a dual lumen (two in one) tube design to minimize noise interference.
The stethoscope is made using high quality materials including stainless steel, high quality dual lumen rubber tubing, patented soft seal ear-tips and a non chill rim. While the 3M Litmann Cardiology III Stethoscope is at the higher end of the price range it’s uncompromising design and functionality make it an excellent stethoscope for the price.
2. American Diagnostic Corporation Platinum Edition Adscope
American Diagnostic is well known for their well priced solid line of medical stethoscopes and the American Diagnostic Corporation Platinum Edition Adscope is a great choice among their numerous offerings. In fact the platinum edition adscope is one of the best multi-frequency scope in their range of medical devices.
It features a double leaf internal spring that is fixed at a 15 degree angle to provide optimal comfort with a reinforced yolk that’s molded onto a flexible pvc “y” tubing that measures in at 22″ long.
The Adsoft deluxe PVC ear-tips on the listener portion of the stethoscope are designed to form a comfortable acoustic seal around the ears in order to minimize outside noise interference. As stated earlier this stethoscope is decently priced at under $50 (at the time of this writing).
3. 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope
The 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope is the least expensive 3M Littmann stethoscope in our review and a #1 Best Seller on Amazon.com. It features a lightweight design with a tunable pressure-change tear-drop shaped diaphragm. As with other Littmann brand stethoscopes this stethoscope uses Littmann’s patented soft-sealing eartips.
This product is comprised of metal/resin composite materials to keep it extremely lightweight at a weight of 4.2 ounces and is a wonderful device for individuals who want a good, affordable stethoscope without the extra bells and whistles.
4. ADC ADSCOPE 603 Stainless Stethoscope
The ADC ADSCOPE 603 Stainless Stethoscope is another popular stethoscope among the American Diagnostic brand of stethoscopes. Instead of a single-sided diaphragm this stethoscope features a tunable dual-sided none chill bell/diaphragm design for observing varying sound frequencies.
This product costs around $30 (at the time of this writing) and is made using stainless steel, epoxy and fiber glass materials with a total weight of 5.77 ounces making it the least expensive stethoscope in our review list.
5. Littmann Classic II S.E. Stethoscope
Last, but definitely not least in our top 5 list is the Littmann Classic II S.E. Stethoscope. The Littmann Classic II S.E. Stethoscope is a very highly rated (4.7) & popular stethoscope sold on Amazon.com.
This stethoscope features a dual sided non chill chest-piece that offers versatile sound auscultation with a tunable pressure change diaphragm. It’s made using metal/resin composite latex free materials to provide additional comfort to allergy sensitive individuals and weighs in at 4.8 ounces.
What to look for when buying a stethoscope
Choosing the perfect stethoscope often depends on your work and professional requirements.
Factors such as the stethoscopes sound auscultation, weight, materials (durability), chest-piece and warranty can have a big impact on whether or not you’ll get the most use out of a particular stethoscope.
Because of this it is important to understand which features are important to you and which ones aren’t so that you can make the best buying decision.
In some cases you may not need all of the features a stethoscope offers to do your job well.
For example the weight of a stethoscope may not be nearly as important to you as the sound quality or the material the stethoscope is made out of. If weight really isn’t that important for you in a stethoscope than you can save some money if you’re perfectly fine with buying a heavier stethoscope because it serves the purpose you need.
If you have the extra money and want to go for a stethoscope that has more features than go for it, but if you’re budget is limited choose the most important features for your working needs.
Whether you’re buying a stethoscope at a store or online make sure you keep these factors in mind and decide which features are must haves and which ones are trivial.
- Acoustic qualities
Acoustics: One of the most important factors in choosing a stethoscope is buying one that has good acoustic properties. Sound Auscultation, acoustic sound level and frequency range can have a large impact on your ability to quickly and accurately identify the sounds you are listening too.
It is important that you choose a stethoscope that will work with your hearing sensitivity and general patient population.
If you find yourself listening to low frequency sounds as well as high and mid range sounds than think about purchasing a dual-headed stethoscope with a bell.
If you deal mostly with an adult population and don’t work in a field such as cardiology than you may be fine with just a single-head stethoscope with an adjustable diaphragm.
For better sound quality choose a stethoscope with a dual-lumen design as it is able to separate sounds into left and right channels for better sound observation.
Weight: A potentially often overlooked part of choosing a quality stethoscope is choosing one that’s lightweight and comfortable to carry around the neck or in the ears.
Depending on how often you carry your stethoscope on you and how often you use it the weight properties of the stethoscope may become quickly apparent if the stethoscope is heavy and uncomfortable to use.
Materials: The materials used to make a stethoscope can have a large impact on the sound quality, durability, weight and allergenic properties of the stethoscope.
When choosing a stethoscope keep in mind what materials it is composed of and identify the potential trade offs of those materials to help you decide which one is right for you.
Price/Warranty: Last, but not least is understanding the price and warranty of the stethoscope you want to buy.
A great stethoscope is worth its weight in gold as it provides excellent sound quality, weight and durability for its price.
However you don’t want to choose a stethoscope based solely on its cost.
Rather than focusing on buying a cheap or expensive stethoscope you should focus on what the stethoscope offers in terms of weight, acoustics and durability.
The best stethoscope will last you years and work best for your particular situation.
Once again be sure to keep these factors in mind when choosing a stethoscope:
- Acoustic properties
Friends, coworkers and trusted reviews
One of the best ways to find a good EMT/paramedic stethoscope is to ask around.
If you have friends or coworkers who are also EMT’s and paramedics than ask them what type of stethoscope they use and what they like or dislike about their stethoscope.
You can learn a lot about buying a good stethoscope through them, and may even be able try their stethoscope out or use it for a few days to help you make a better buying decision. Just be sure to swap out the ear tips when you use their stethoscope.
Checking out trusted reviews is another great way to find out what people think about a particular stethoscope.
Amazon is a great place to start when looking for reviews as they are one of the largest online stores for all sorts of products, including buying / selling stethoscopes.
When looking for quality reviews be sure to look at reviews that have a “verified purchase” label next to them as it ensures the review is from someone who purchased the stethoscope.
Also be sure to read other reviews made by that author to check for quality, consistency and honest feedback as it is possible for people to fake reviews on most websites.
By asking your friends and coworkers, and reading quality reviews you can get a fairly good understanding of which stethoscope will be right for you.
How much should you pay for a good stethoscope
The average price of a stethoscope will vary depending on the features of the stethoscope, the material it is made out of and the brand of the stethoscope.
Beginner, general use and/or student stethoscopes can often be purchased for a reasonable price of around $30 – $90. These stethoscopes generally offer decent sound quality and may/may not be made with heavier or lower qualities materials.
For those who need a little extra sound and build quality a professional / specialized stethoscope may offer better sound for the user and be constructed of higher-end lightweight metals. For example there are specialized stethoscopes designed for pediatrics, cardiology and EMT/paramedic work.
Each of these stethoscopes features unique benefits that make them ideal for working with different patients and in environments.
Some of these features may include lighter weight components, increased durability, special diaphragms and/or bells, wider frequency ranges, enhanced sound oscillation and limited lifetime warranties on specific components among other features.
Because of the additional features that these stethoscopes provide they may be priced at a higher range of around $50 – $200 or more when compared to general use or beginner stethoscopes.
Electronic stethoscopes can cost several hundred dollars, however they offer users significantly enhanced sound levels and allow professionals to tune into specific sound ranges so that they can quickly diagnose their patients condition.
Some electronic stethoscopes also allow users to observe sounds visually through a digital display, which allows for even better health observations and makes it easier for doctors, physicians and other medical professionals to show their patients what they are listening too.
Here are some prices an individual might expect to pay for a good stethoscope.
These price ranges provide a rough estimate on the cost of a different stethoscopes, however you may find models and/or brands that sell stethoscopes for prices outside of these ranges.
- Beginner / general use stethoscope $20 – $50
- Professional/specialized stethoscopes $50 – $200
- Electronic stethoscope $150 – several hundred dollars
Please keep in mind that these are just estimates for what you might expect to pay for a particular stethoscope. It doesn’t gaurentee that other stethoscopes won’t fit into a different price range. For example you may find a specialized stethoscope for more or less than the prices listed here, however many of these stethoscopes may be found within this price range.
Advice on getting a good price
When it comes to getting a good price on your stethoscope there are several things you can do to ensure you’re paying a fair price.
As stated earlier the price of a stethoscope may be strongly influenced by its features, material and the brand that makes the stethoscope.
Although prices for certain stethoscopes may not vary a lot from one place to another you can still do some due diligence to find the least expensive price for the stethoscope you want.
In order to do some comparison shopping you’ll first need to find out what stethoscope is right for you.
Once you have one or a few stethoscopes in mind you’ll then want to comparison shop on websites such as Amazon.com, Allheart and Scrubs and Beyond.
You should also directly check the websites of the brands that make these stethoscopes such as 3M, Littmann and MDF Instruments to see if they are offering lower prices or special discounts.
Lastly, check with some of the large retailers such as Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens as they may offer competitive pricing on the products they sell.
If you don’t mind purchasing a used stethoscope you may be able to find one at a discount price on a website such as eBay, Craigslist or Facebook. Just make sure you are buying a stethoscope from a credited seller that has a trustworthy history.
Additional buying tips
Buying a stethoscope may seem like a bit of a challenge if you don’t know what to look for.
Figuring out how much you should spend on a stethoscope, where you can buy one and deciding what factors are most important are important for making a good selection so that you get the most out of your device will make it easier for you to make a good choice.
Hopefully we’ve helped answer some of these questions in this article and in our other posts, however we’d like to share a few more suggestions with you to improve your buying experience.
To help you in your search to buy a good stethoscope we’ve put together these quick tips so you can make a better buying decision.
- Choose a stethoscope that’s designed for your area of specialty
- Determine what factors are most important to you (weight, material, single or dual-head design etc.)
- Ask fellow students, coworkers and other medical professionals what they use and why
Choose a stethoscope based on your needs
As we mentioned earlier there are a variety of stethoscopes that are designed to serve different purposes.
There are stethoscopes designed specifically for cardiology, pediatric care and EMT/paramedic work among other specialties.
Each of these stethoscopes offer unique functionality in order to provide more precise and accurate readings for a given situation, so start your search by reviewing stethoscopes that are designed for your specific needs in order to make a better buying decision.
Decide what factors are most important
Aside from purchasing a stethoscope based on its work related features you should also consider factors such as the weight of the stethoscope, the material its made out of (durability / allergy free components) and other specialty factors such as whether it has a dual-head and if you need a double diaphragm or a diaphragm / bell combination.
By determining what is and isn’t important to you it will be easier to eliminate the wrong stethoscopes while narrowing down the right ones based on your real needs.
For instance you may not like the color of a particular stethoscope or the tubing may not be as long as you’d want, but it offers greater benefits in other areas than other stethoscopes that might have those features.
In this case a few minor nuances may be better to deal with than a stethoscope that has those features but isn’t as well equipped for the job or the task at hand.
Last buy not least make sure you ask others around you who are in the same line of work what they think about the stethoscopes the use.
What factors do they love about their stethoscope and what are some trouble points they experience when using it.
Getting clear and concise feedback from other people who use similar stethoscopes is a great way to help you decide what’s important and what’s not.
It can also help you narrow down your choices when you have several stethoscopes to choose from.
Parts and accessories for maintaining your stethoscope
Aside from purchasing a quality EMT/paramedic stethoscope there are a number of parts and accessories you can purchase to help you extend the life of your stethoscope and get the best usage out of it.
Some of the items you can purchase along with your stethoscope include eartips, diaphragms, I.D. badges and alcohol pads or stethoscope cleaners.
Eartips are one of the easiest and least expensive items to replace on a stethoscope. If you have uncomfortable eartips or you just need to replace them you can usually find a pair of quality eartips online on a website such as Amazon.com.
In fact some healthcare professionals who buy less expensive or used stethoscopes will replace the eartips as a quick way to improve their overall comfort.
Diaphragm and rim assembly
Higher end stethoscopes may offer replacement parts that can be less expensive than purchasing a whole new stethoscope. If you’re concerned about the life of your stethoscope or it’s functionality consider getting one that has a replaceable adjustable diaphragm and/or bell as this can easily double the life of your device and even give it additional functionality.
Binural / tube replacement
Some stethoscopes offer binural/tube replacements that can be purchased separately from the chest-piece.
Binural replacements are great for those who have a working diaphragm/bell, but have a damaged or old binural assembly that needs replacing.
By replacing the binural users can save additional money that would otherwise be spent purchasing a whole new stethoscope.
When you invest in a decent stethoscope you’ll want to make sure that it doesn’t get mixed up with someone else’s stethoscope if you happen to put it down and walk away from it.
Name tags are also a great way to keep track of your device when you’re working in a large hospital / healthcare center where the probability of misplacing your stethoscope is fairly high.
By tagging it with your name / number you’ll have a much better chance of recovering your lost stethoscope, and if you’ve invested decent money into your device it’s worth the extra insurance you’ll get from purchasing an I.D. tag.
Alcohol pads / stethoscope cleaner
Alcohol pads and stethoscope cleaners are not only great for keeping your device in good condition, they’re also important for keeping them germ free as you deal with patients throughout the day.
By cleaning your device regularly you will minimize the chances of potential germs making contact with you or the patients you assist.
Choosing a great stethoscope doesn’t have to be hard. In fact with a little research and advice you can find a device that fits in well with your day to day work life fairly easily.
Consider the most important elements that will provide you with the best benefits such as the stethoscopes weight, sound quality, durability and price to help you determine the two or three devices that you’d most likely want to purchase.
Since you’ll likely be operating out of an ambulance and performing your duties in noisy environments sound auscultation and amplification will probably be the most important factors for you.
If you’re dealing with a hearing impairment then consider purchasing an electronic stethoscope as you’ll able to better amplify the sounds you’re hearing. Just be aware that these devices tend to be a bit on the expensive side.
After identifying your must haves you can use customer reviews and feedback to help you narrow down your choices even further, so that you can make a confident buying decision.
Alternatively you can ask those you work with which ones they recommend as they’ve likely already tried a number of different devices over the years and can help you pin down one that’s just right for your needs.
If they don’t mind and you know them well enough you can even ask them if you can borrow their stethoscope for a day so that you can test it out and see if it’s one you’d consider.
Hopefully these tips can help you make a better buying decision and narrow down your choices to the ones that are ideal for your situation.