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August 1991

Use of Tap Water and Disinfection Practices in Outpatient SettingsA Survey of Otolaryngologists

Author Affiliations

From the Hospital Infections Program, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Public Health Service, US Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, Ga. Dr Lowry is now with the Division of Infectious Diseases, Stanford (Calif) School of Medicine.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1991;117(8):886-888. doi:10.1001/archotol.1991.01870200080013

• 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, ≥30 minutes; boiling, ≥5 minutes; or autoclaving, ≥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.

(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1991;117:886-888)