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Hazards: Ambulance Stethoscopes May Pose Risk

NEW JERSEY -- Stethoscopes carried by ambulance crews are not always cleaned as often as they should be, and as a result they may be exposing some patients to drug-resistant bacteria, a new study reports.

Researchers who looked at stethoscopes used by emergency medical services workers in New Jersey found that a significant number carried methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, bacteria known as MRSAthat are resistant to standard drugs.

Some of the ambulance workers could not recall the last time the instruments had been cleaned, said the researchers,whose report appears in the current issue of Prehospital Emergency Care.

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