Are you wondering about the best stethoscope for hard of hearing medical professionals?
The truth is it can be extremely difficult for doctors, nurses, and medics who are hard of hearing to find a stethoscope that meets their needs. Hearing loss may increase over time; it can run the spectrum from minor to serious; and hearing aids may or may not be required. There are also many different types of hearing aids available for those who use them. All of these factors will impact how you hear the sounds of auscultation.
What all this means is that finding the best stethoscope for hard of hearing professionals is very complicated. The perfect stethoscope for one user may not be a viable option for another. For this reason, we’re basing our recommendations mostly on the advice of publications and forums devoted to the professional development of hard of hearing health care workers.
Amplified stethoscopes: best bets for professionals not using hearing aids
If your hearing loss is mild and you don’t use a hearing aid, a high-quality amplified stethoscope is your best bet. Additionally, if you use a hearing aid but don’t mind removing it to use a stethoscope, you may also want to consider an amplified stethoscope.
The stethoscopes listed below are designed for use without a hearing aid. It is possible to get specialty earpieces which allow use with a hearing aid, but most users describe these as extremely painful and nearly impossible to use. It’s also possible to have your audiologist adapt your hearing aid for stethoscope use. This often results in heavy feedback, though, and usually turns out to be an incomplete solution.
Based on significant research, we can offer the following choices for medical professionals who can use a stethoscope without a hearing aid:
- Littmann Cardiology III
- Littmann Master Cardiology
- Littmann 3100
- Welch-Allyn Master Elite Electronic
Both the Welch-Allyn Master Elite and the Littmann Electronic 3200 get special notice for their cutting edge technology. Either one can be used to record and analyze sound with the help of a computer and special software.
The Cardiology III from 3M Littmann takes the #1 spot due to its sound quality and comfort on the ear canal. Whether taking a blood pressure reading or listening to a baby heartbeat the sounds comes through clearly and reliably. At the upper end of the price range, the Cardiology III is generally going to be purchased by medical doctors.
For nurses, EMTs, and other medics a more cost-effective option is the Welch-Allyn Master Elite.
Both of these models feature a tunable diaphragm to maximize sound quality.
Specialty scopes: the best stethoscope for hard of hearing professionals using hearing aids and cochlear implants
The selection of stethoscopes that can be used with a hearing aid is more limited ‒ and if this is your only option, be prepared to make a sizable investment. These stethoscopes are designed to use with accessories that adapt them to work with your hearing aid, generally via Direct Audio Input and/or headphones because they are electronic stethoscopes. They include the following:
- Cardionics E-Scope II
- Littmann 3100
- Audiologist’s Choice Amplified Stethoscope
- Eko Digital Stethoscope
The newest addition to this list is the Audiologists’s Choice Stethoscope, which entered the marketplace in 2012. It deserves special mention because it is the first ever Bluetooth-enabled stethoscope. If you’re currently using this stethoscope, we would love to hear from you! Eko has also entered the bluetooth market with its Eko Digital Stethoscope, however user reports indicate it can be difficult to tune the diaphragm to focus on auscultation rather than picking up all background noise in the room.
Which is best for you will depend on what kind of hearing instrument you are using. With hearing aids or cochlear implants, you need to make sure that the stethoscope you purchase will fit comfortable in your ear canal. A device that is painful to use will not be used for very long.
Look for options to use over-the-ear headphones for maximum comfort and ease of use.
The Cardionics E-Scope receives the best and most frequent reviews of these three stethoscopes, and it’s our choice as the best stethoscope for hard of hearing medical professionals.
Super-Specialty Scopes: the best stethoscope for deaf medical professionals
For those medical professionals who are completely deaf, it is going to be near impossible to find a stethoscope that will work. Essentially you are limited to digital oscilloscopes, which fortunately are becoming more widely available as technology improves.
One option includes the Eko Digital Stethoscope which has a bluetooth connection to a smartphone app.
Finding a stethoscope to match your level of hearing loss and your clinical needs can be challenging and frustrating. We’ve discovered a few excellent resources to help you as you make this complex decision. Here are a few links that may be of interest to you:
“How to Cope With Scopes” (2004) – an in-depth look at stethoscopes and hearing loss
Beyond Hearing Aids – an online supplier of products for the hard of hearing
AMPHL – stethoscope information from the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses