A survey of otolaryngologists belonging to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery was conducted to estimate the frequency of tap water use during otologic examinations and to assess methods used for disinfection of otologic instruments in outpatient settings. Questionnaires were returned by 516 persons residing in 49 states. Tap water was used commonly for rinsing suction tips while suctioning patients even with tympanic membrane perforations (45%). Most respondents (87%) reported that their otologic instruments undergo either high-level disinfection or sterilization between patient examinations; however, only 63% to 67% of respondents reported adequate duration of treatment times (high-level disinfection, greater than or equal to 30 minutes; boiling, greater than or equal to 5 minutes; or autoclaving, greater than or equal to 20 minutes). The risk posed by the use of tap water during otologic examinations and the need for adequate disinfection of otologic instruments between patient examinations are presented.
Lowry PW, Jarvis WR
Arch. Otolaryngol. Head Neck Surg. 1991 Aug;117(8):886-8