3D Printed Stethoscopes for Just 30 Cents

Posted on August 25, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We’ve written about 3D printing a number of times before including the 3D printed hand, 3D printed hearts, and even 3D printed blood systems to name a few. Plus, we’re just getting started with the 3D printing revolution.

Another example of the amazing work of 3D printing in healthcare is this story about a doctor in Gaza that’s developed a 3D printed Stethoscope. Here’s a quote from the article which highlight the healthcare challenges he faces:

“I had to hold my ear to the chests of victims because there were no good stethoscopes, and that was a tragedy, a travesty, and unacceptable,” Loubani told the Chaos Communications Camp in Zehdenick, Germany. “We made a list of these things that if I could bring them into Gaza, into the third world in which I work and live, then I felt like I could change the lives of my patients.”

In order to solve this problem Loubani turned to the Glia Free Medical hardware project in order to develop the 3D printed stethoscope. They estimate that it cost them about $10,000 to develop. Here’s the quote about the 3D printed stethoscope that’s astounding:

“This stethoscope is as good as any stethoscope out there in the world and we have the data to prove it,” Loubani says.

I’m sure the FDA won’t let them say that, but when your alternative is putting your ear to the chest of the patient, it’s hard to argue with a 30 cent tool that will be an improvement over no stethoscope.

It’s also exciting that the Glia team is also working to develop pulse oximetry equipment, a gauze loom, otoscope, and other surgical tools. Plus, as you can probably imagine from the name, anything that the Glia Free Medical hardware project develops will be released as open source to the community.

It’s worth noting that prominent people like Dr. Eric Topol have been saying that he no longer carries a stethoscope since he can just do an ultrasound and see the heart or an EKG with his cell phone. This reminds me of the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems The hashtag doesn’t quite work for this, but it reminds us of the difference between what’s available in a first world country versus the developing world. It’s amazing what we take for granted. A doctor having a stethoscope nearby has been a standard forever in the US. Hopefully now it will become a standard in Gaza thanks to the new 30 cent innovation.