Taking care of some of the sickest patients requires the best nursing tools available.
A reliable stethoscope is key to properly diagnosing and treating patients.
These 5 stethoscopes are some of the best options for nurses working in the Intensive Care Unit and taking care of the most critical patients.
*Disclosure: This article on the best stethoscope for intensive care unit nurses may contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. For more info, please see my disclaimer.
- Best Overall: 3M Littmann Cardiology IV
“Comfortable and ergonomically designed.”
- Runner-Up: ADC Adscope 600 Platinum Series
“Lifetime warranty and free replacement consumables program.”
Best Stethoscopes for ICU Nurses
1. 3M Littmann Cardiology IV
Our Top Pick
Ergonomic design and useful in challenging environments like critical care.
The 3M Littmann Cardiology IV stethoscope features a large chestpiece and deep bell which allows you to hear even the most subtle changes in patient status.
Hearing the most subtle changes early on gives you more time to diagnose and treat your most critical patients properly.
This stethoscope was designed with comfort in mind and is ergonomically-designed to fit securely around the neck without feeling heavy or cumbersome.
The chestpiece is made from durable stainless steel so it's built to withstand even the toughest working conditions.
- Large chestpiece
- Deep bell for hearing subtle changes in patient status
- Diaphragm comes off easily
- Turquoise color fades
- Tubing material may cause skin irritation
Check the price of the 3M LIttmann Cardiology IV stethoscope on Amazon.
2. 3M Littmann Master Cardiology Stethoscope
The 2-in-1 also called dual lumen tube design helps to keep out extra noise.
Diagnose patients of all ages with the 3M Master Cardiology Stethoscope.
It includes a special procedures adapter that allows you to listen to both infant and pediatric patients as well as adult patients.
The headset is designed to fit comfortably and securely inside of the ear canal so it seals out exterior noises that may interfere with diagnosing a patient.
Diagnosing is made even easier with the tunable diaphragm that requires just a simple pressure change to listen to high and low-frequency sounds.
The large, stainless steel chestpiece also delivers clearer sounds.
- Suitable for patients of all ages
- Comfortable headset
- Tunable diaphragm switches from low to high frequency
- Only 4 color options
- Diaphragm may rust
- Feels heavy around the neck
Check the price of the 3M Master Stethoscope on Amazon.
Related Article: 5 Top Littmann Stethoscopes for Nurses
3. ADC Adscope 615 Professional Stethoscope
Comes with a lifetime warranty and free “consumables.”
A lifetime warranty and free replacements on consumable parts are just two of the great features that come along with this ADC Adscope 615 Professional Stethoscope.
It looks and feels differently than traditional stethoscopes because it's made from lightweight materials like zinc alloy and is finished off with a satin coating.
The 22-inch PVC tubing is flexible and durable so it fits comfortably around the neck without twisting or irritating your neck.
Silicone eartips mold to the ear canal for a secure fit that eliminates exterior noises that may interfere with diagnosing a patient.
- Lifetime warranty and free replacement on consumable parts
- Lightweight zinc alloy construction
- Comfortable silicone eartips
- Eartips fall off easily
- Some complaints that the diaphragm comes apart
Check the price of the ADC Adscope 615 Stethoscope on Amazon.com.
4. ADC Adscope 600 Platinum Series
Make sure to register to get your life-time warranty and free “consumables” replacement.
Listening to your most critical patients calls for a stethoscope with superior sound quality and a headset that seals out exterior noises.
This ADC Adscope 600 Platinum Series stethoscope delivers all that and more.
There are multiple color choices in both satin and high-gloss finishes for a stylish and professional look.
The diaphragm is tunable and switches quickly between high and low frequency sounds.
The black anodized aluminum binaurals are durable while the silicone eartips fit soft and comfortably inside of the ear canal.
It's also backed by a lifetime warranty and free replacement consumables guarantee.
- Tunable diaphragm
- Black anodized aluminum binaurals
- Lifetime warranty and free replacement on consumable parts
- Tubing is short
- Complaints that the eartips and diaphragm break easily
- Not lightweight
Check the price of the ADC Adscope 600 Platinum Series on Amazon.com.
5. MDF Classic Cardiology Stethoscope
Comes with a lifetime warranty and a free parts for life program.
Suitable for cardiology and critical-care settings, the MDF Classic Cardiology Stethoscope is one you can rely on.
It not only looks great but it also performs consistently and lasts a long time.
There's a lifetime warranty and Free-Parts-for-Life Program that comes along with each stethoscope purchase.
Each stethoscope is built from high-quality materials that are free from allergens like latex.
The duel-lumen tubing resists rubbing so you hear only patient sounds without any exterior noise interference.
There are also multiple eartip sizes offered including small, medium, and large so they fit comfortably in the ear canal.
- Lifetime warranty and free replacement on consumables
- Duel-lumen tubing resists rubbing
- Tubing becomes discolored easily
- Heavy around the neck
- Complaints that the diaphragm and ear tips break easily
Check the price of the MDF Classic Cardiology Stethoscope on Amazon.
Stethoscope Buying Guide for Nurses
1. Deep Bell
The bell of the stethoscope allows you to hear low-frequency sounds while the diaphragm lets you hear high-frequency sounds.
While the bell can also detect high-frequency sounds, the deeper the bell, the easier it is to detect the most subtle changes in patient status.
Stethoscopes with a deep bell are ideal for the ICU and other critical-care settings were both high and low-frequency sounds need to be easily detectable.
Many stethoscopes have a single chest piece with a tunable diaphragm that allows you to change between high and low-frequency sounds with a simple pressure change.
2. Short or Long Tubing
While long tubing may fit more comfortably around the neck, it can make it more difficult to hear sounds.
The longer it takes a sound to travel through the tube to the ear canal, the fainter the sound will be.
For this reason, short tubing is more ideal in a critical-care setting like the ICU because it allows you to hear sounds more accurately. If the short tubing irritates your neck, you can place your stethoscope on a belt loop or in a pocket.
Universal fit and grip with a lifetime warranty.
3. Consumable Parts
When you hear that a stethoscope comes with a free replacement program for consumable parts, you may wonder what parts are covered by that guarantee.
Generally, consumable parts refer to things that can break easily and also be replaced easily, such as the diaphragm and ear tips.
Whenever you're replacing consumable parts, be sure to follow all of the instructions that come from the manufacturer and ensure that all parts are secure before using the stethoscope again.
This is particularly important for eartips that can become loose and lodge themselves inside the ear canal, causing potentially permanent damage.
4. Latex-Free Tubing
Many people have allergies and one of the most common allergies is one to latex.
An allergy to latex can result in symptoms that range from mild to severe, including:
- Chest tightness
- Breathing difficulties
- Itchy or runny eyes or nose
- Stuffy nose
Stethoscope tubing is the most likely place you would find rubber latex.
PVC tubing or tubing made without rubber latex is the best option for those with a latex allergy.
5. Silicone Eartips
Eartips that that don't seal properly can interfere with diagnosing a patient.
Silicone eartips are the best option because they mold to the ear and create a comfortable, custom seal that cancels out exterior noises.
Although silicone molds well to the ear canal, it also cracks and breaks easily.
If you're purchasing a stethoscope with silicone eartips, make sure that it comes with a free replacement program for consumable parts to avoid spending money on replacing these easily-broken parts.
Another option is to purchase a stethoscope with ear tips of various sizes for a better fit.
Related Article: Learn more about the different parts of a stethoscope.
The right stethoscope is crucial for critical-care settings like the ICU.
Nurses need a reliable stethoscope that works consistently and is comfortable to wear around the neck.
All of these stethoscopes have features that will benefit nurses working in the ICU and other critical-care settings where a good stethoscope matters.