Top 5: The Best Stethoscope for EMS

5 Best stethoscopes for EMS, best stethoscope for EMTs, Best stethoscope for Paramedics

This article was last Updated 10th March 2024

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Choosing the Best Stethoscope for EMS

The 3m Littmann Stethoscope is the best Stethoscope for EMS.

Choosing the best stethoscope for EMTs & Paramedics is not always as simple as choosing the most popular or reputable brand. Each brand makes various models and they often have different levels of acoustics and functionality as they are intended for use in different environments and by people with specific training and scope of practice.

The multitude of different EMT Stethoscopes available on the market also offer a wide range of different features, are available in a range of different colors and some boast a range of optional accessories, such as Stethoscope name badges. Remember that although these various colours and designs are plentiful, some may not comply with your department standards or regulations. Other colours, like red for example, could also make it harder to see blood stains on the tubing, making them potentially hazardous and more difficult to clean.

In fact, when we set out to find the best stethoscope for EMS, the best stethoscope for Paramedics, and the best stethoscope for EMTs, we had to throw away our preconceptions and open our minds to brands we had not even heard of before.

In determining the Best Stethoscopes, we evaluated several different factors including cost, reliability, durability, and performance. All of the products recommended here are top of the line, and we have personally used them and tested them out.

Our reviews are based on our personal experience using these stethoscopes, and also based on the feedback from our colleagues in EMS and healthcare providers who have also used these stethoscopes.

Note: We have not considered electronic stethoscopes in this article. The main reason for this is because in EMS we need reliable, trusted and proven gear. Unfortunately electronics can fail unexpectedly, and our work also places in uncertain and at times exposed environments, such as rain and wet weather, and we all know that water and electronics don’t mix. In the future, we may consider including electronic models in our comparison, as the technology improves and offers more reliability in the field.

It’s not all about the gear…

EMT Equipment, Paramedic Equipment, EMS Gear

Remember that you can have the best EMS Gear on the planet, and still be an ineffective provider. You should also focus on training, continuing education, and other areas of personal and professional development, like improving your EMS Fitness, with an aim to being the best emergency medical care provider that you can possibly be.

You don’t want to be labelled as having ‘All the gear, and no idea‘ – maybe consider signing up a member of EMT Humor to stay up to date and grow your knowledge and skills, even the more mundane ones like perfecting your ambulance driving techniques!

Still, it doesn’t hurt to have the best stethoscope available to go along with your training…

1. Littmann Classic III – The best Stethoscope for EMS

Best Stethoscope for EMS - Littmann Classic III - A good EMT Stethoscope

The Littmann Classic III Stethoscope is, overall, the best stethoscope for EMS. It is reasonably priced, offers all the essential features, performs well and is durable enough to survive the various, and sometimes harsh environments we find ourselves working in and exposed to as EMTs and Paramedics.

It’s also often named up as the best stethoscope for noisy environments due to it’s acoustic performance – especially given the price.

If you’re a supervisor or manager of EMS, and you are looking for a reliable, accurate stethoscope to purchase for your kits, then look no further than this Littmann Classic III.

BONUS HINT: This stethoscope makes for an awesome gift for EMTs and Paramedics!

This stethoscope is also a runner-up in the race to being named the best stethoscope for Paramedics, and is also a great stethoscope for nurses.

The Littmann brand is reputable and highly respected among healthcare professionals, so you know you can count on it to perform and deliver accurate acoustics when you need it the most.

One downside to the Littmann Classic III stethoscope, is the price. When considering the best stethoscope for EMS and the best stethoscope for EMTs, we need to consider the lower salaries of EMTs and Paramedics when compared to other healthcare providers. Although the price is a little high for the Littmann classic III, it’s still the best stethoscope for EMS by far. Spending a little more upfront gives you a reputable and reliable stethoscope that will last for many years, providing you treat it well.

2. ADC Adscope Lite 619 – The Best Stethoscope for EMTs

Best Stethoscope for EMTs - ADC Adscope Lite 619 Stethoscope.

This is a lightweight yet powerful EMT stethoscope, and although it’s a close second to be the best stethoscope for EMS it’s number one in the race to being named the best stethoscope for EMTs.

Please consider checking with your department or EMS agency regarding the minimum standards for stethoscopes used by EMTs and Paramedics on duty.

While this EMT stethoscope can be used for auscultating blood pressures, its acoustic sensitivity may not be as effective as other models, particularly in noisy environments.

Paramedics use the best stethoscope for EMS to listen to a patients lung sounds.

If you opt for a cheaper stethoscope while studying, it is advisable to upgrade to a more robust model when starting your career. The difference in acoustic quality between a cheaper stethoscope and a Littmann, for example, is remarkable.

The ADC Adscope is a durable and lightweight EMT Stethoscope, and costs less than the 3M Littmann Stethoscopes, earning it the title of the best stethoscope for EMTs.

One drawback however is that although this EMT Stethoscope is of high quality and offers the same features as the Littmann Classic III, the brand is not as well-known and reputable as Littmann, and some organisations have strict policies on the type and standard of EMT stethoscope you can use, so it may not be universally acceptable.

This EMT Stethoscope is a fantastic stethoscope for many providers, and is a great lower cost option, especially for students and volunteers who don’t need to spend hundreds on gear.

3. Littmann Cardiology IV – The Best Stethoscope for Paramedics

Best Stethoscope for Paramedics - Littman Cardiology IV Stethoscope

While some might call this dual head stethoscope overkill for EMS, it’s a valuable tool, especially for ALS providers. What sets this stethoscope apart from the Littmann Classic is the sensitivity of the acoustics, making it easier to auscultate heart sounds with greater accuracy and reliability.

If you’re routinely using your stethoscope for auscultating heart and lung sounds, rather than just taking Blood Pressures, then this stethoscope becomes a great option, and is a clear winner in being named the best stethoscope for Paramedics.

Of course, you could opt to use this model as an EMT stethoscope also, but just remember that you will pay extra for additional features and functionality that you may not require, or rarely use – especially if it’s outside of your scope of practice.

Although – If you’re planning on continuing your education and studying to be a Paramedic, and want a high quality stethoscope that will last you through your EMT and Paramedic years, then look no further.

It’s price however is far higher than other stethoscopes on the market, but remember that you get what you pay for. Overall, this is the best stethoscope for Paramedics, however it’s probably overkill for most EMTs and BLS responders – plus with the harsh environments we expose our gear to, you have to consider if it’s worth having an incredibly expensive stethoscope, and how easily you can afford to replace it if needed.

You should also remember that buying expensive gear won’t automatically make you a better medic. I know that at the end of the day, if I was having a medical emergency, I’d rather have a highly trained, experienced and knowledge medic with a low-quality stethoscope come to help me, rather than someone who just does the bare minimum training and education requirements, but has a top of the line stethoscope. I’m sure most people would agree with the sentiment!

4. Littmann Lightweight II

4th Best Stethoscope for EMS

The Littmann Lightweight stethoscope is a great option for EMT & Paramedic students, who are looking to use it mainly for blood pressure assessments and limited assessment of heart and lung sounds. This also makes it a good option for EMS volunteers who can’t afford a better model, or who can’t justify the extra expenditure on a better model, for a volunteer commitment.

With this stethoscope, you get the reliability and performance of a Littman, but for a much more reasonable price. Just remember it’s not as capable as other Littmann models, or even the ADC Adscope. You can still get excellent acoustic performance from this model though – it all depends on the environments you work in, a bit like choosing the Best EMS Boots doesn’t always mean getting the most expensive…

You will notice that if using the Littmann Lightweight Stethoscope, that the acoustic sensitivity is nowhere near as good as that of a higher-end model. This stethoscope is good for infrequent, limited use.

If you plan on using this as an EMT stethoscope, then you may be better off paying that little bit extra, and getting the Littmann Classic III or the ADC Adscope.

5. MDF Acoustica Deluxe

5th Best Stethoscope for EMS

This cheap EMT stethoscope is a good option for students and volunteer EMS personnel who can’t afford better models like the best stethoscope for EMTs, but still need a reliable EMT stethoscope, mainly for auscultating blood pressures.

An EMT uses a stethoscope to auscultate a patient's blood pressure.

Although it’s good enough to perform basic assessments like blood pressure, the MDF stethoscope doesn’t have the same reliability as the Littmann Classic or the ADC adscope and may not perform to the same standard as a better model when auscultating chest sounds, especially in challenging environments.

BONUS TIP: Although auscultating a blood pressure is a simple task during EMT training, it’s important to use high quality gear to ensure you get an accurate blood pressure reading!

If you do decide to buy this model, be sure to check with your department/EMS agency, as they may set out minimal standards for stethoscopes to be used by EMTs and Paramedics while on duty with their service, and we can’t guarantee whether or not this model will make the cut.

From our experience using this EMT stethoscope we found that it was up to the task of auscultating blood pressures, but that the acoustic sensitivity was not as good as other models, if using in a noisy environment, it might not be as effective.

If you do choose a cheaper stethoscope such as this model while learning or studying, remember to consider upgrading to a more robust model when you commence your career. When I first upgraded from a cheaper stethoscope to my Littmann, the difference in acoustic quality was remarkable.

P.S. If you’re buying a cheaper stethoscope for your EMS studies – you might benefit from our list of the Best EMS Textbooks!

What type of stethoscope do EMTs use?

EMTs and Paramedics prefer to use traditional stethoscopes that rely on acoustic conduction of sound through tubing, and into high-quality ear pieces. In most cases, electronic stethoscopes aren’t recommended in EMS due to a lack of reliability and sturdiness in the field.
There are some cases, however, where electronic stethoscopes are preferable, especially for those who experience hearing difficulties.

What is the best stethoscope for EMT reddit

Many reddit users class the Littmann Classic III as the best Stethoscope. This is consistent with our experience in the field, however your own personal preference may vary, and your budget may require you to settle for a different model or brand entirely.
Remember that just because a piece of gear suits someone really well, it doesn’t guarantee that everyone will find it just as good.

Why are stethoscopes so important?

Stethoscopes: the iconic symbol of the medical profession and an indispensable tool in the clinician’s arsenal. They are the quintessential instrument for auscultation, the art of listening to the internal sounds of the body. This isn’t just medical eavesdropping; it’s an acoustic gateway to a wealth of physiological information.
But it’s more than just looking cool like a medic on the set of Chicago Fire, stethoscopes play a vital role in patient care, and are useful in EMS, just like other healthcare fields.
When a doctor dons a stethoscope, it’s not for a fashion statement – it’s a bat-signal for the body’s inner workings. The stethoscope’s bell and diaphragm are like Batman’s utility belt, equipped to tune into the heart’s pumping rhythm or the lungs’ whispering breezes. It can discern the tell-tale murmurs of a faulty heart valve or the crackles and wheezes that hint at respiratory distress.
Beyond diagnostics, it’s a non-invasive herald of patient progress, unmasking the secrets within with no pokes or prods needed. It builds a bridge of trust between patient and practitioner; that cold metal touch is often the first physical point of contact, a ceremonial initiation of the healing process.
In a world obsessed with tech, the stethoscope stands its ground, elegantly simple yet profoundly effective. Its importance is as clear as the lub-dub it detects – a timeless tool in the pursuit of health, a sentinel in the silent corridors of the body.

Why can’t I just use the stethoscope provided in the ambulance?

Most EMS departments provide EMT stethoscopes in the ambulances/equipment bags to be used by the EMTs and Paramedics on shift.
These stethoscopes are usually middle-of-the-range, and don’t offer the best results.
If you do rely on using these EMT stethoscopes, then you are choosing to rely on a piece of equipment that you have not chosen, or been involved in the selection process of, and can therefore not attest to its reliability, usability or accuracy.
Adding to that, there is also the issue of hygiene.
When using your stethoscope, you should be cleaning and maintaining it anyway, however with a communal stethoscope there is an added layer of concern over sharing the equipment, due to the ear tips.
These ear tips are commonly cleaned by wiping them with an alcohol wipe before and after use, to help ensure that you are not getting an ear-wax transfusion from one of your colleagues for simply taking a blood pressure.
For example, if you’re a paramedic who chooses to buy yourself the best stethoscope for paramedics, then you can rely on that piece of equipment to carry only your own earwax – so if you forget to wipe it over in the haste of dealing with medical emergency, then it’s OK.

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