As a long-time admirer of Medelita white coats, I was ecstatic to get my first embroidered and fitted coat to proudly display. More recently, I became a Medelita ambassador -- seriously a dream come true!! Until recently, I didn't actually realize that Medelita sold stethoscopes, let alone one of the highest quality and value instruments around. That being said, I am super excited to be sharing this post so you can learn more about the ERKA stethoscope! In this post, you will learn that, 1) YES!!!! Medelita does sell stethoscopes and 2) Why I absolutely love my ERKA Sensitive stethoscope.
Disclosure: The ERKA Sensitive stethoscope was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review about my use of the instrument.
To begin, I am a first-year medical student and still just getting used to using a stethoscope on a regular basis. I did use an off-brand stethoscope from Amazon stethoscope for two years while working as a medical assistant since my only need for it included measuring blood pressure. Once I began medical school, I was gifted a Littmann IV Cardio Stethoscope from an alumni donor at my medical school. Since then, I was using my Littmann 2-3 times per week while learning clinical exams (cardio, pulmonary, abdominal, etc.), managing at a free clinic, and shadowing physicians.
Background: ERKA stethoscopes have been handcrafted in Germany since 1889 and Medelita is the authorized U.S. retailer of ERKA. The ERKA stethoscope are widely used by healthcare professionals in Europe, similar to the frequency of Littmann use in the United States! I do understand the natural instinct to purchase a commonly used stethoscope, but there are a lot of reasons I would suggest doing more research about the perfect stethoscope for your use. The ERKA stethoscope options are as follows:
Sensitive Cardiology: "The Ultimate Cardiology Stethoscope: The Reference Standard In Auscultation." $178
- Compares to Littmann Master Cardiology
- Broad Spectrum Dual Membrane Stethoscope
- Handcrafted & Engineered in Germany
Precise Cardiology: "Perfect Hearing At A Glance: The Ultimate Diagnosis Stethoscope." $156
- Compares to Littmann IV Cardiology
- Open Bell / Dual Membrane Chest piece
- Dual Channel Acoustic Tubing
- Stethoscope Engineered & Handcrafted in Germany
For the purpose of this review, I will be comparing my beautiful ERKA Sensitive Medelita Stethoscope with the Littmann IV Cardiology Stethoscope because these are the two I own. However, the quality of my ERKA Sensitive Medelita Stethoscope is actually more comparable with the Littmann Master Cardiology Stethoscope which I do not own or use.
The day was November 4th 2019 and I was working in a free clinic with one of our seasoned Family Medicine practitioners. A patient arrived complaining of shortness of breath which presented over 6 weeks ago and has gone without relief. After performing a comprehensive history and pulmonary exam on them, I left the room to consult the physician and offer my thoughts. Together, we entered the room and he asked to borrow my stethoscope to evaluate the patient's lungs (very commonly our doctor's do not carry their own scopes.) Without hesitation, he took a listen and heard the stridor. As he handed the stethoscope back to me he asked what stethoscope I was using since it "offered a very clear sound."
It was my new ERKA Sensitive Medelita Stethoscope!
I am not an expert in stethoscopes or diagnostics, but I will share a comparison of my two stethoscopes and a discussion of my observations:
#1) Practicality: As someone who does not have the best hearing, the room has to be much quieter in order for me to hear wheezes or gallops in my Littmann IV Cardiology. The ERKA Sensitive is just that, much more sensitive to sound and much easier for me to hear. This stethoscope does live up as advertised: "Minimizes External Sound Interference." I imagine this would be very useful for students who are still learning to find abnormal sounds, as well as doctors who work in loud areas such as an Emergency Room.
#2) Style: Perhaps I care about this category more than others, but I like to think of a stethoscope as an accessory in some sense since I use it so often. Certainly, this is certainly a personal preference category; however, I find the ERKA Sensitive to be more visually appealing. The tubing is slightly longer and hangs longer over my neck. It is also more sleek and I like the look of the head of the ERKA stethoscope.
#3) Comfort: First, the ERKA Sensitive hangs slightly heavier around my neck than the Littmann IV Cardiology; this doesn't bother me personally. The ERKA earpieces are also double cushioned which is a feature that the Littmann IV Cardiology does not have. For someone with one ear canal shaped oddly, I really like this feature. Overall, ERKA is much more comfortable sitting in my ears, Littmann is slightly lighter weight.
#4) Durability: I would rank the Littmann IV Cardiology and ERKA Sensitive equal in terms of durability. The ERKA is made from chrome polished brass -- which is more durable than stainless steel Littmann IV Cardiology is made from. However, it would take a lot longer for this to be noticed than the time I have owned either instrument.
#5) Storage: I really like that the ERKA Sensitive stethoscope comes in a durable zip-up canvas case because I frequently am transporting my stethoscope between school, clinic, home, and the hospital. The Littmann IV Cardiology only comes in the box so you would need to purchase an additional travel case if you wanted one. This is not a "make or break" feature but consider the case wrapped into the price of ERKA which is not the case for Littmann.
#6) Color: ERKA Sensitive comes in 5 colors; I have the red one. ERKA Precise also comes in 3 colors. Littmann IV Cardiology has 17 color options so if you are looking for a stethoscope with a very specific color this may matter to you. I have never personally met anyone who cared much about the color of their stethoscope, they much prefer a high quality and affordable instrument.
#7) Price: ERKA takes the cake on this one completely. The ERKA Sensitive, which is equivalent to the Littmann Cardiology Master, costs $178 rather than the Littmann Master Cardiology which runs around $400. The ERKA Precise, which is equivalent to the Littmann IV Cardiology, costs $156 rather than the Littmann IV Cardiology which runs around $200.
Overall, both stethoscopes are great instruments and share similarly excellent qualities. Personally, I have decided that I will be using my ERKA to learn with because I can hear sounds so much better with the external sound cancelling feature. Otherwise, I believe that ERKA stethoscopes are of equal or slightly better quality but the price of ERKA is much more affordable making it a better value.
If you are in the market for a new stethoscope, Medelita frequently runs sales and promotions! They are currently running a 30% off Black Friday sale (ends 11/29/19): Use the code EARLYBF30! And make sure to check my Instagram page @abisanatomy to see when other sales go live! Plus, check out more of their website here :) Happy shopping!