Should RNs have to pay for thier own stethoscopes?

IANAN but my SO is. She was telling me that she had to go out and buy a new stethoscope and real good ones can cost up to $100. I was flabbergastedthat that isnt something the Hospital that she works at wouldnt provide or reimburse for.
Her arguement was that it is part of the uniform and like any other uniform the employee has to bear the cost. My arguement is that a stethoscope is a mechanical medical device to determine illness. The hospital should provide all mechanical devices required to do the job. Or should the nurses provide thier own EKG machines as well? The fact that the use of the device due to health reasons should be limited to one person should have no bearing that i can see. Its simply an unfortunate drawback to a medical device but no reason in and of itself to arbitrarily alter who should be responsible for providing one.Thoughts?

There are different styles and sensitivities of stethoscopes. Should the hospital dictate which one a health provider uses? Should it equip everyone with the same model, even if the provider doesn’t care for it? Should it reimburse everyone for their choice, even if someone picks an electronically amplified gold-plated model with automatic bell warmer?

I don’t think it’s unfair. Most carpenters buy their own tools. Until recently (and even now, in most rural areas) most cops had to buy their own gun and gunbelt. That runs a lot more than $100, believe me!

There are different sensitities and styles to xray machines, lab tests,and a million other medical devices as well. Yet you dont have hospitals providing 3 different brand name xray machines for the 10 different doctors that like 10 different things.Reasonable standards are established and if there is a medical basis for needing a nonstandard device then you provide your evidence to the hospital and they make a decision just like any other medical devices they buy and provide… This doesnt mean somehow thier obligation to pay for medical equiptrment is somehow abrogated.

I understand your point, but a stethoscope seems a very personal item. My sister had to buy one as well, but she anticipates using the same one for years (from job to job, etc.). Plus, as a required item, doesn’t she get a tax write-off?

Lizard, carpenters are "“generally” considered a contracter class in the industry, whereas i think nurses at a hospoital are more of the employee type. Cops buying thier own guns i think is silly as well.If its a tool used exclusively for the execution of your job and has no use outside of the job and your not a “contracter” type where the expectation is that you have your own equiptment, you shouldnt have to provide for any of that by yourself. How many reasonable home uses does one have for a stethoscope? I mean you could reasonably wear your KMart smock at home,although noone IRL would. Its made of cloth provides warmth etc. It at least has some reasonable function, used as it was designed,outside of work.

Doctors have to (to the best of my knowledge) buy their own stethoscopes as well, as do residents and even med students I think. Last I saw, a very basic stethoscope cost under $25. The ones over $100 are usually for cardiologists, and I know there are some new electronic types that can cost that much or more. I saw a price list posted downstairs, I could go check if there’s more of a question on this.

I’m betting the reason that medical providers buy their own stethoscopes is that they’re so easily broken and misplaced by those same people. It’s also your own stethoscope, and you don’t really want to be sharing them that often (ew, earwax), as opposed to an EKG machine which costs thousands and is used by a particular department.

Using that arguement should she be required to buy an Xray machine and write that off as well?

My responce to this is that a stethoscope should be treated like any other piece of property in any office and if something breaks or gets lost the employee bears responsibility like anything else. But that isnt a reason to not originally provide one.And as stated as before, just because a drawback of that particular medical device is only one person can use one health reasons wise, why is that suddenly the employees problem?

I am a medical student. I bought my own stethoscope for $150. It is a decent one that is pretty sensitive. I use it to listen to the heart, lungs, intestines and blood vessels of my patients so I need to be able to pick up very subtle sounds at many different frequencies.

Most of the nurses stations in my hospital have several low quality (<$30) stethoscopes for use by the nurses, but I have rarely seen a nurse use it for anything other than taking blood pressures.

I believe as others above have said that it is a matter of individual use vs multiple use. Otoscopes and ophthamascopes are usually provided by the hospital because they can be used by whomever needs them on a floor or in a room. They aren’t expecting each health care worker to carry around these instruments. But a stethoscope is a personal piece of equipment.

You seem to be missing my point. If your job is to use a low quality stethoscope to take BP and it does the job properly then the hospital should supply such stethoscope. However if the job requires the “need to pick up very subtle sounds” then the hospital should provide such a device that covers those requirements. No different than determining if you get a cat scan or an Xray and what tools are needed for that job. You require specialized tools to do your job and your employer has that obligation to provide them IMO. The notion that a stethoscope is a personal piece of equiptment is only true by definition in that somehow the employer conned you into assuming his medical costs.

I’m sure that sounds fair, but as this thread proves, it just ain’t so! I didn’t make up my statement about cops buying their own guns; I learned this from the cops themselves. This practice is slowly dying out, but not in smaller communities, for the simple reason that it’s cheaper and leads to less conflict (complaining about the model issued, etc.) than any other method of supply. This is one of the main reasons for this kind of policy anywhere, I’d wager. Why should the hospital worry about making sure everybody has a stethoscope they like, and paying for it besides, when they can make people get their own? Whether someone has a “contractor” type relationship with their employer or not is really irrelevant. Carpenters, cops and nurses are all considetred skilled, blue-collar class labor who require specialized tools. If the employer doesn’t have to provide them, they won’t. What’s “fair” has nothing to do with it. Unions live for battles over this kind of thing.

As a CNA we were required to purchase our own, or share with a few others (chip in type thing).

Stethescopes are very personal things. Do you really want someone elses ear boogies in your ear? EEWW.

They can be purchased very cheaply, or you can invest in a good one that will last ages.

Is it wrong to have to BYOS? It would be good for the employer to supply them but, like many things, theft and the cost of replacing these items adds up too quickly.

I would still prefer to bring my own.

I know a guy who became a Chicago cop in the last couple years, and he said he had to buy his own gun, uniforms, and other items. So it still continues in some larger areas, at least.

My husband is a postal worker, and their uniforms come out of a yearly allotment of funds to each carrier, to spend at a uniform store as they wish. It’s not their own money, but it is part of their job compensation, and certainly isn’t enough to keep them extremely well-stocked. (I don’t know if they’re able to buy USPS uniforms with regular money at uniform stores, I’ve never asked.) He has also - against USPS regulations - bought many, many pairs of non-uniform company shoes to wear on the job. He wears them out far faster than his uniform allotment would be able to pay for them, going through at least 3 pairs a year (estimating conservatively I’m sure). He also has foot problems and doesn’t like many of the offered styles of footwear; up until recently he hadn’t been able to find a uniform store pair that was comfortable, and often by the time they start pinching oddly, not supporting his arch, etc., the tread is worn and the shoe couldn’t be resold after a return, so he’s out money.

I suspect issues with theft/loss/breakage are the major reason why stethoscopes are purchased. This will help ensure that the user keeps track of it, and doesn’t abuse it. Stethoscopes get lost much more easily than your average EKG machine - I’ve found them lying around in drawers, tucked away in briefcases and forgotten about, stuffed on top of bookcases, left in conference rooms, and so on, and that’s at a place that does require you to buy your own. Similarly, my last institution issued your first pager free, but breakage/loss after that meant that you paid for a new one.

Nursing student here…all the hospitals I’ve been in had a supply of stethoscopes for the nurses to use, 5-10 depending on how big the unit is. However when I first started school, we were required to buy our own for labs. I’d much rather use my own stethoscope than use the “communal stethoscopes”, as we call them. Who knows what is lurking on the earpieces? Yuck!

My stethoscope is a Littman II, a pretty good quality steth that cost me about $110 CDN. I use it for blood pressures and to listen to heart, lung and bowel sounds. The low quality ones on the units can’t pick up those sounds very well.

Anyway I think it’s a pretty good investment because it means I have a steth that is comfortable (most of the ones on the units have hard plastic earpieces whereas my own has soft rubbery material), I can hear what I’m listening for, and I don’t have to worry about what might be on the other stethoscopes.

Doesn’t sound unfair to me. My Mom is a RN, and I have never heard her complain about having to buy her own.

At my job, we have several (35 or so) people that work in a very noisy enviroment. These people are required to provide their own hearing protection, which is specialized and often expensive (mine was $550). As far as I know, this is common practice in my field. I have never worked with anyone who had a problem with it.

Auto mechanics buy their ownhand air and specialty tools but usually not the lifts and alignment racks or computer diagnostic equipment that is normally found at dealerships

I bought my own when I was a med stud back in 1980. It’s a very personal item; frankly I’d rather share underwear. And I don’t let others use it. Replacement cost these days would be about $300. The nurses always said their cheap ones worked as well, but they always called me to listen with mine when they couldn’t hear the blood pressure!

I’ve used it since I got it, had it repaired a number of times, and couldn’t conceive of an employer issuing a generic one to me.

For a time I had an employer who gave me $x each year to buy med supplies or get continuing education, and I could have used it for that. But I didn’t need to.

That said, I don’t know how you could get away without one in school (nursing or med), and the school sure isn’t going to buy you one! So the expectation is you have your own when you have your license and degree and are looking for a job. Require the employer to get one, and they’ll get the cheapest they can get away with, it’ll hurt your ears, break easily, and you won’t hear half what you ought to.

A professional takes pride in their tools, especially one used so intimately.

And don’t dare compare it to a speculum!! :smiley:

I am an RN and it has never occurred to me to expect my employer to provide a stethescope for me - it’s a very personal item, not just a tool. Hospitals do provide a few cheapies that go in a drawer next to the manual blood pressure cuffs that we might pull out in an emergency, but for listening to heart & lung sounds, etc., I want my own equipment that I trust and am used to. Also, I’m not sticking something in my ears that has been God knows where. So, no, nurses don’t necessarily have to, but most of us feel the need to, which I consider the same thing.

I also buy other things for myself that I don’t want to share from a communal pile, like scissors, hemostats, drug books, calipers, etc, etc.

For heaven’s sake, just write it off as a professional expense, just like you do the uniforms, shoes, and continuing education.

I’m an RN and really don’t have anything new to add, Qadgop the Mercotan and tmwster said it perfectly.
I would never use a communal stethescope-eeewww! My earwax may not be any less gross than anyone else’s earwax, but at least it’s mine. It might seem kinda funny for a nurse to be grossed out considering the things we touch on a daily basis, but a person’s gotta have some limits!:smiley: