back to article Gazan medico team 3D-prints world-leading stethoscope for 30c

Tarek Loubani, an emergency physician working in the Gaza strip, has 3D-printed a 30 cent stethoscope that beats the world's best $200 equivalent as part of a project to bottom-out the cost of medical devices. Loubani together with a team of medical and technology specialists designed the stethoscope and tested it against …

  1. Sebastian A

    Am I just too pessimistic?

    My first thought was "How long will it take the trillion-dollar medical industry to try to kill this initiative?", and the second thought was "How crap must the existing gear be if something around a tenth of a percent the cost meets or exceeds it in quality?"

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Am I just too pessimistic?

      It's not that the existing gear is crap, it's that old problem of "profit" and no incentive to make it better. One hell of a markup on these things and no need to do R&D as the medicos take what they can get.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Am I just too pessimistic?

        And any new design or modification has to pass expensive testing and licensing, you have to find distributors to stock it, you have to renegotiate supply contracts with insurance companies hospitals and national health services. All for a gadget that you might sell one or two per doctor per lifetime.

        You can make an opthalmascope (light for looking into eye) from a pen torch and bit of silver foil and a pin hole - but buying a "proper one" still costs a few $100

    2. Francis Boyle

      Re: Am I just too pessimistic?

      Thing is, if you're a well paid doctor in the first world why wouldn't you pay $200 extra for a well made example something that is after all a symbol of your profession. The desire to have something that's attractive beyond it's functionality is, after all, how Apple made it's fortune. The real shame (and surprise) is that there isn't already a cheap plastic stethoscope for situations where functionality is the only concern. Unless of course, there already is, and the article is just yet-more 3D printing hype.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Am I just too pessimistic?

        > "Thing is, if you're a well paid doctor in the first world why wouldn't you pay $200 extra for a well made example something that is after all a symbol of your profession."

        Because you might prefer to use that money to treat patients, not over-bill them and save some lives instead?

    3. xerocred

      Re: Am I just too pessimistic?

      I just checked Alibaba...

      You can get them from us$0.50 in bulk from China. They come in multiple colours too.

      1. DropBear

        Re: Am I just too pessimistic?

        Can't wrap my head around why a few pieces of plastic and metal tubing should ever cost more. This is NOT a painstakingly-calibrated-by-elves fragile instrument, FFS! On the other hand I wouldn't agree to "test drive" the printed dialysis machine...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Am I just too pessimistic?

          We have just had to scrap a patch of parts because a sub-contractor can't provide traceability documentation into the batch of anodizing chemicals used to make an aluminium cover black.

          This is a non-sterile part that a patient in a GP's office might touch - "occasional intermittent contact" according to the standard - not a heart valve.

        2. lpcollier

          Re: Am I just too pessimistic?

          Like many professional tools, decent quality *does* matter, and is generally not appreciated by those who don't use the tool for hours every day.

  2. P. Lee
    Childcatcher

    To paraphrase Flanders & Swan

    "Communists! Going around healing people for almost free - that's the way to make people hate you!"

    Won't anyone think of the pharma suppliers' children?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To paraphrase Flanders & Swan

      Worse than that - they are in Gaza so they are terrorist communists.

  3. JohnnyGStrings

    Can't we see a picture of the 3D printed stethoscope? The one in the article is just a picture of the Littmann commercial one... :)

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "costs remain high despite the expiration of 1960s-era stethoscope design patents"

    Gosh, could that mean that the medical industry has artificially inflated its prices all these years ?

    In any case, it would appear that Littmann is the gold-plated Monster cable of the medical industry.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: "costs remain high despite the expiration of 1960s-era stethoscope design patents"

      Does their tubing have arrows printed on it to help the sound travel the right way?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Business must be brisk

    What with the continuous supply of patients/failed martyrs his political overlords are sending him. Nice to see someone in that place thinking of ways to save people rather than kill them.

    1. Hollerith 1

      Re: Business must be brisk

      I think his political overlords (AKA leaders) aren't actually doing the shooting and shelling of their constituent members themselves. I think this might be being done by a neighbouring country.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Business must be brisk - and a two way street

    Amazing what the profit motive will do... :/

  7. Eddy Ito

    one Gazan hospital covering more than a million patients had a single autosculpt [The instrument used for peering into the ear canal - Ed]

    Uhh, I think you mean otoscope.

  8. fhyndoh

    A doctor writes...

    I have used many stethoscopes (GMC 7037441) for those who want to know...i'm in the public domain anyway...

    The main advantage of the (very) expensive litmann (and similar) stethoscopes is sound isolation...you can hear the lungs or the heart through any old tube, including the 5p NHS ones...but the more expensive ones have nice features like soft ear tips (very valuable after your first stethoscope induced outer ear infection), and you can't hear the drunk man in the bay next to you screaming while trying to listen for a soft murmur.

    Of note in the picture above the 3d printed bit has litmann binaurals and a litmann diaphragm...and it's the binaural bit that makes the difference IMHO. The chest piece is not quite the point here.

    I'd still like a go though...and the project ideas seem fantastic.

    PPS it's an auroscope.

    Michael Finegan

  9. fhyndoh

    I have used many stethoscopes (GMC 7037441) for those who want to know...i'm in the public domain anyway...

    The main advantage of the (very) expensive litmann (and similar) stethoscopes is sound isolation...you can hear the lungs or the heart through any old tube, including the 5p NHS ones...but the more expensive ones have nice features like soft ear tips (very valuable after your first stethoscope induced outer ear infection), and you can't hear the drunk man in the bay next to you screaming while trying to listen for a soft murmur.

    Of note in the picture above the 3d printed bit has litmann binaurals and a litmann diaphragm...and it's the binaural bit that makes the difference IMHO. The chest piece is not quite the point here.

    I'd still like a go though...and the project ideas seem fantastic.

    PPS it's an auroscope/otoscope.

    Michael Finegan

    1. lpcollier

      I think the whole thing matters.

      I agree with you - in a quiet room you can generally use any old stethoscope. But the other bits do matter - soft ear tips are kind on the ear and provide some isolation. Cheap tubes make a horrible squeaky rubbing sound if you or the patient moves. The cardiology diaphragms are very sensitive and I think worth the extra money.

      In any case, I suspect cheap Chinese stethoscopes would be perfectly fine for field work, or sponsor individual doctors and send them something decent.

      Lee (6141355 :)

      1. Duffy Moon

        Re: I think the whole thing matters.

        I'm sure decent silicone tubing and squashy foam eartips can't be that pricey though.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: I think the whole thing matters.

          Why do I start thinking about a good pick-up microphone, some minimal packaging, maybe a standard noise cancelling DSP to cut-out noise and some headphones... After all, _NO_ stethoscope rubber will provide even a fraction of the isolation you will get from a set of nice studio cups.

          1. lpcollier

            Re: I think the whole thing matters.

            They exist, there's several different digital augmented stethoscope models. But, they need batteries, they're heavier to carry around a neck or in a pocket, and can't be submerged. There's also a professional skill in being able to diagnose with standard instruments.

  10. JP19

    More 3D printing bollocks makes this news?

    Nothing about this stethoscope needs to be 3D printed, no one in their right minds would use 3D printing to produce this stethoscope in even moderate volume.

    The guy designed a simple stethoscope which appears to work well, he gives away the design - great.

    He used 3D printing to make prototypes during development - the same as thousands of other designers do every day - they don't call their products 3D printed.

    1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

      Re: More 3D printing bollocks makes this news?

      But to be fair, given the situation he was in, 3D printing the stethoscope was the only way he was probable;y likely to experiment and get a decent design - that of course can be mass manufactured.

  11. lpcollier
    FAIL

    Autosculpt?! Really?

    There's no such thing as an "autosculpt". It's auroscope or otoscope.

    1. The Indomitable Gall
      Coat

      Re: Autosculpt?! Really?

      Maybe it's the brand of 3D printer he was using...?

  12. Your alien overlord - fear me
    Coat

    What's wrong with an iApp - there must be a few that are free and all doctor's have iPhones....

    Just looking for my iphone in the pockets....

  13. lamenteel

    stethoscope design

    Hello

    Tomorrow (20/8/2015) you can see images about the 3D design of this object in our post on www.3Dmatic.es/blog

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