Nursing

The 5 Best Stethoscopes For Nurses Reviewed – 2019

Having a good stethoscope is pretty important; not only for your patients but for you as well!

Being able to properly listen to blood flow, the heartbeat, lungs, and more, is crucial to a proper diagnosis, check-up, or checking vitals. That’s the bare minimum that they should be able to do.

However, if you want the one of the best stethoscopes for nurses, then you want them to be lightweight and comfortable, while also providing top-notch sound isolation, performance, and durability.

Which ones are the best? Keep scrolling to find out!

Quick Answer: The 5 Best Rated Nursing Stethoscopes – 2019

  1. 3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope
  2. ADC Adscope 615 Platinum Professional Clinician Stethoscope
  3. MDF Sprague Rappaport Dual Head Stethoscope
  4. ADC Adscope Adimals 618 Pediatric Stethoscope
  5. 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope

We’ve reviewed the top nursing stethoscopes followed by a comparison table and buying guide to help you decide on sleeve that will work best for you.

Best Nursing Stethoscopes

 3M Littmann Classic III StethoscopeADC Adscope 615 Professional StethoscopeADC Adscope 618 Pediatric Stethoscope
Best For:Diagnosis & Physical Assessment‎ Clinician Clinician Pediatric
Diaphragm Diameter:1 3/4"1 3/4" 1 3/8"
Colors:22103
Rating:4.7 / 5.04.3 / 5.04.4 / 5.0

Nursing Stethoscope Reviews

 

The 3M Littman Stethoscopes are already used by so many top professionals around the world, and there are plenty of reasons why. First off, you have the obvious, which is the aesthetic appeal.

You get to choose from a whopping 22 different colors/color combinations, as well as various chestpiece styles.

The tunable diaphragm technology allows you to hear various frequencies by simply changing the pressure on the chestpiece.

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This not only saves time, but allows you more time to focus on your patient. In addition, we loved the non-chill diaphragm so they’re a bit more comfortable and calm. The next-generation tubing is very durable, and retains both its shape and pliability well.

It’s very resistant to the oils of the skin, alcohol, and stains. The 5-year warranty will have you covered for quite a while, anyway. As it’s not made with natural rubber latex, they’re also great with sensitive skin.

We loved that it is free of phthalate plasticizers, making it a more eco-friendly option, as well. Finally, the USA-made product comes complete with large and small soft-sealing eartips and a non-chill bell sleeve.

The 3M Littmann Classic III is our Editor’s Choice as the best stethoscopes for nurses.

 

3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope at a Glance:

  • Best For: Diagnosis & Physical Assessment‎
  • Color Options: 22
  • Warranty: 5-year warranty
  • Diaphragms: Tunable on both adult/pediatric chestpiece sides
  • Tubing: Resistant to oils/alcohol, made with no rubber latex or phthalate plasticizers

ADC Adscope 615 Platinum Professional Clinician Stethoscope

If you really need a stethoscope that lasts through all those long shifts, and all of the crazy calls, then check out the ADC Adscope 615.

With a lifetime warranty, you don’t have to worry about them giving out on you. The adjustable frequency design gives you the same level of acoustic response as a traditional bell and diaphragm, all in one handy, one-sided chestpiece.

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Speaking of the chestpiece, we quite liked the oversized, sculpted ovoid design of it. It’s made from lightweight zinc ally, with a beautiful satin finish, which works well both acoustically, and aesthetically.

The clinician headset has reinforced yoke molding, with pliable 22-inch PVC tubing that’s very sturdy, even after being folded up time and time again.

Stainless binaurals and Adsoft Plus silicone eartips give you an ultra-comfortable experience, as well as an acoustic seal for supreme performance.

In addition, you’ll receive two extra pairs of their eartips, and a scope ID tag, so no one will be able to take yours!

While it doesn’t feature the huge variety of color/finish options that the previous product did, it does have 10 color schemes, which are all unique (our favorite is the sleek Tactical option).

 

ADC Adscope 615 Platinum Professional Clinician Stethoscope at a Glance:

  • Best For: Clinician
  • Color Options: 10
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Diaphragms: Traditional, non-chill
  • Tubing: Flexible, 22-inch PVC
  • Rating: 4.3 / 5.0

The MDF Sprague Stethoscope made it onto our list with ease. As they’ve been making this stethoscope model since 1971, you can rest assured that they know what they’re doing through tried-and-true methods.

Included with your purchase, you’ll receive free parts for life, as well as a lifetime warranty, so once you buy, you’re all set.

The 5-in-1 Sprague design is genuinely unique, with included adult, pediatric, and infant attachments, so you can help any patient that walks through your door with ease.

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The Accufit headset is custom-fitted, adjusting completely to what you need. In addition, you’ll find the stethoscope features two sound channels, with Duel Lumen (latex-free PVC) tubing for the highest level of performance and durability – no cracking and wearing.

It works well to seal out outside sounds, even in loud environments, so you can provide the service your patients deserve.

The BlackOut color scheme is not only gorgeous, but goes with anything, as it’s all-black. The handcrafted zinc-alloy dual-head convertible chestpiece is made specifically for excellence, and is one of the most flexible on the market, today.

 

MDF Sprague Rappaport Dual Head Stethoscope at a Glance:

  • Best For: Assemblies for adult, pediatric and infant
  • Color Options: 1
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Diaphragms: Adult, Pediatric, and Infant
  • Tubing: Duel Lumen Tubing/Latex-Free PVC
  • Rating: 4.3 / 5.0

ADC Adscope Adimals 618 Pediatric Stethoscope

Perhaps you only treat pediatric patients, and don’t require the adult diaphragms. That’s great! Why spend the extra money if you don’t need to?

The ADC Adscope Pediatric Stethoscope is the best option for children out there, in our opinion.

The pediatric nurse scope features an adorable design that’s sure to calm your small patients, with three cute colors to choose from, and 7 interchangeable animal face snap-ons: Panda, Koala, Monkey, Frog, Deer, Tiger, and Bear.

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As far as performance goes, it’s at the top, with their AFD Technology design which goes between a bell-like low frequency, and diaphragm-like high frequency performance, simply by changing up how much pressure you apply.

This also makes using it quicker and easier, which is essential when you’re dealing with pediatrics. The non-chill bell and diaphragm retaining rim is ideal for keeping your patients comfortable and calm, as well.

The lightweight aluminum binaurals are ideal for your comfort, and also match in a satin finish, to the tubing. The headset is also made with a reinforcing yoke molded into 22-inch PVC tubing perfect for continuous use.

The 5-year warranty isn’t ideal, but it’s definitely not bad.

 

ADC Adscope Adimals 618 Pediatric Stethoscope at a Glance:

  • Best For: Clinician Pediatric
  • Color Options: 3
  • Warranty: 5 years
  • Diaphragms: Non-chill Pediatric
  • Tubing: Durable/Lightweight PVC
  • Rating: 4.4 / 5.0

We’re back again with another 3M Littman product, but this time we have another model. This one is a bit easier on the wallet, and while it is still high-quality, you don’t get the same amount of options as the first one.

This model comes in 5 unique colors, as opposed to the over 20 options the last one has.

You’ll still get top-notch performance with this headset, providing reliable acoustic performance for taking vitals as well as certain assessments of adult patients.

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The tunable diaphragm is easy and fast to use, with pressure alterations capturing low or high-frequencies. The tear-drop shape is perfect for sliding under a blood pressure cuff with ease, giving a more accurate reading.

The anatomically-designed headset is ultra-comfortable for you, and simpler to use, with the angled design made to perfectly meet your ear canal’s route.

The non-chill rim and diaphragm will make your patients feel a bit more at ease, and comfortable, too. The biggest, or perhaps the only complaint we had with this model, is the stingy 2-year warranty.

For us, that’s very little, and while the headset will most likely last you longer than that, it is still quite short.

 

3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope at a Glance:

  • Best For: Blood Pressure and Physical Assessment
  • Color Options: 5
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Diaphragms: Tunable
  • Tubing: Natural rubber latex-free
  • Rating: 4.3 / 5.0

Nursing Stethoscope Comparison Table

Nursing Stethoscope Best ForDiaphragm SizeColorsWarrantyRating
3M Littmann Classic III StethoscopeDiagnosis & Physical Assessment‎ 1 3/4"225 Year4.7 / 5.0
ADC Adscope 615 ProfessionalClinician 1 3/4" 10Lifetime4.3 / 5.0
MDF Sprague RappaportAdult, Pediatric and Infant1 3/4" 1Lifetime4.3 / 5.0
ADC Adscope 618 Pediatric StethoscopeClinician Pediatric 1 3/8"35 Year4.4 / 5.0
3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E.Blood Pressure & Physical AssessmentN/A35 Year4.3 / 5.0

How to Choose the Best Nursing Stethoscope – Buying Guide

Best Nursing Stethoscope

If you’re a brand-new nursing student, or just need a bit of guidance, then you’re going to love the buying guide we’ve created for you, below. This will inform you on all you need to know about selecting the perfect headset for you, and why you should select a certain model.

Head Type

As you may already know, there are various types of stethoscopes out there. They’ll come with various heads/chestpieces most times, made to listen and transfer sound from the head, to your ears. Many times, they’ll utilize three different heads, dubbed a “single-head”, “dual head”, or “electronic head”. Each feature their own benefits.

The single-head provides a one-sided chestpiece with an adjustable diaphragm, letting you hear a wide range of sounds/frequencies, and is great if you’re dealing with patients with heart/cardiovascular conditions, as you can adjust the pressure to hear sounds of the heart, stomach, and lungs.

The dual head has either a dual-sided diaphragm, or a diaphragm and a bell. These have the ability to hear various ranges of sound, based off of the patients’ conditions or age.

If you will need to hear frequencies/sounds from both large and small areas of the body, this is an excellent choice, as you can hear larger regions, or narrow things down to a very small area. Bells are made to hear very low frequencies and murmurs that diaphragms may not be able to pick up.

Electronics let you hear very specific frequencies, and amplify them to properly diagnose conditions. They’re an excellent selection if you work in cardiology, or can’t seem to hear proper noises out of your standard headsets.

They also have a digital display to assist in possibly recognizing potential medical conditions, and even let patients watch what you’re hearing.

Environment

What type of environment will you be working in? This will play a huge part in selecting the perfect stethoscope for you, as you’ll need to determine if you’ll require one with higher sound amplification (if you’re working in a loud environment such as the emergency room/ambulance), or a standard model will work just fine. If you’re in a loud environment, an electronic stethoscope can really help out.

Patient Types

What type of patients will you be caring for? If you’re looking out for children and/or infants, you’ll want to go with a pediatric stethoscope, or at least a model that has the ability to switch out the diaphragm that works for children and babies.

Tubing

Tubing is another important part in selecting the proper headset for you and your patients. You’ll most likely want to go with genuine latex-free tubing, as they latex can irritate those with more sensitive skin. Tubing will sometimes just consist of one large tube with two channels inside, or two tubes places side-by-side.

The single tube will give you less ambient noise which is ideal and more accurate. You’ll want the tubing to be well-insulated, so go with thicker tubing if you can, and make sure the lumen of each tube is at least 1/8 inches.

Ear Tips

Ear tips (often called earpieces), come in either hard or soft materials. Some stethoscopes will actually provide you with both, so you can select which type works best with the shape of your ear canals. As everyone has differently-shaped ear canals, you’ll need to test this out yourself.

You’ll want the ones that work best in terms of comfort, and those which are most effective at blocking out extraneous noises so you can hear the noises/frequencies you need to.

Having a pair of high-quality ear tips can make all the difference in terms of comfort and performance. We really enjoy Littmann’s brand of ear tips, and can be used with a wide variety of headsets (even non-Littmann ones). They generally give a good seal, helping to more effectively isolate sounds and frequencies and are quite comfortable.

ID Tags

This is an aspect which is often overlooked when selecting the best stethoscope for nurses, but we consider them nearly essential. They’re an excellent (and sometimes the only) way to keep track of your stethoscope when you’re working alongside other medical professionals, which you most likely will be doing.

Of course, you’ll want to take into consideration the size of the facility you’re working in, as well as the number of other professionals you’ll be working with, to consider the chances that there will be a mix-up.

If you have the same exact product as someone else, if you don’t have an ID tag, there’s really no way of figuring out whose is whose. In addition, if yours get lost by chance, it will be easy to return them back to you with a tag.

A bonus to having a unique color scheme or finish, is that if you choose not to use an ID tag or your model doesn’t come with one, it can be much easier to tell yours apart.

If you don’t want to use one, we highly recommend choosing a model like you’d find the 3M Littmann III offers, with crazy rainbow finishes, or a black matte finish that isn’t as often seen.

Price

Of course, it’s also important to consider how much you’re willing to spend on your new headset. The good news, is that you can get one of the top-quality devices at an affordable price, nowadays, as there are so many options, and the most expensive ones aren’t even the top performers, in our experience.

As we mentioned, you’ll want to consider sound quality and oscillation, however, some features that will vary the price are the weight of the headset, the sound components, durability, electronic components, and of course, the brand.

So, think about which features are the most important to you. If you’re willing to pay a bit more, you should expect a very durable, lightweight device with a warranty of at least a few years.

There are some which have lifetime warranties, as well, so paying a bit more for these will ultimately result in you saving money, as you would never have to replace them out of your own pocket.

FAQs For Nurse’s Stethoscopes

You most likely have a few questions relating to the purchase of your new stethoscope. That’s quite normal, as they’re such an important piece of equipment in the medical field. We’ve gone ahead and answered the most frequently asked questions right here, so you aren’t left wondering!

Q: What are the advantages of a tunable diaphragm?

The tunable diaphragm is one you’ll see in the Littmann 3M models, allowing you to hear both low and high frequency sounds without having to even take the chestpiece off of the patient. All you have to do, is simply change up the amount of pressure placed against the patient. While pressing lightly, you’ll hear low frequencies, and while pressing more firmly, you’ll get higher frequency sounds.

Q: How should I care for my stethoscope?

We recommend cleaning it between each patient, with a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution or wipe. We advise against using a hand sanitizer to clean them, as the sanitizers often feature additives that can damage your headset. In addition, never put them in any kind of liquid or put them through a sterilization process.

Q: Is there a difference in sound quality between long and short tubing?

Oftentimes, you’ll read that shorter tubing provides a better acoustic response, which is true, but most people are not going to be able to pick up the difference unless it’s a huge variation between lengths. Length of tubing is ultimately a personal preference of which is more comfortable and convenient to you.

Q: What do I do if I can’t hear anything out of my stethoscope?

First, you’ll want to make sure your headset is properly aligned. Most are designed to be worn at an anatomically correct angle, so it is perfectly in-line with your ear canal. Next, make sure the eartips fit properly. Check for obstructions, and make sure that they’re properly cleaned.

Check the seal, to make sure nothing is loose or cracked. Finally, index the bell (if using a dual-sided device), by opening the bell/diaphragm by rotating the chestpiece. If the diaphragm is open, the bell will be closed, preventing sound from coming through (and vice-versa).

Tips For Using Your Stethoscope

#1: Make sure your ears are always clean

It’s not only important to make sure your stethoscope is clean, but your ears, too. Ear wax blockages are actually one of the most common causes of hearing loss. In addition, disinfect after each patient, and ensure there is no pocket lint or dirt clogging the ear pieces.

#2: Use proper auscultation technique

Make sure the ear pieces are angled slightly towards your nose to properly align with your ear canals. Turn the stethoscope head to the right side. When taking a patient’s blood pressure, ensure the stethoscope is over the brachial artery. Once you have the stethoscope in the proper place, never put your thumb on top to hold it, as it can actually add artifact. Rather, lightly cradle it between your finger and thumb at the base, with the cord over the back of your hand.

#3: Always make skin contact

Sound quality diminishes when it has to go through clothing, no matter which stethoscope you’re using. Always place it directly on the skin.

#4: Don’t adjust your ear pressure

Changes in pressure will stay in the eustachian tubes. While it may feel different, it actually has zero effect on ear piece placement. That pressure alteration is much more probable in affecting sound conduction through your ears, making hearing properly more challenging.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve read pretty much all you need to to select the best stethoscope for nurses, which one have you decided on? They’re all excellent products, but you need to make sure that you’ve picked the right one for you and your patients’ needs. We want to thank you for joining us, and we hope that we’ve helped you out! We’ll see you again soon!

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The 3M Littmann Classic III is our Editor's Choice as the best stethoscope for nurses with its quality, effectiveness and style.

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