In Greek mythology, Sisyphus is a character punished with the task of eternally rolling an enormous boulder up a hill, only to see the boulder roll back down as it nears—but never reaches—the top. Staying on top of compounding regulatory requirements often feels like a Sisyphean endeavor.
Explore this issue:December 2018
Otolaryngology clinic equipment reprocessing, and the increased regulations associated with it, is a topic that has provoked many passionate conversations. Opinions have been discussed online, through various American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO–HNS) committees, and certainly through private conversations expressing the frustrations many practitioners experience with the regulations while delivering patient care.
The problem is that it’s unclear what constitutes a “demonstrated safety risk.” There are data to support many of the safety practices recommended and/or required by various regulatory or accrediting agencies. However, many of these recommendations are based on “common sense” or expert opinion taken from extrapolation of laboratory data about how we know microorganisms can be transmitted. This often means doing things because of a theoretical rather than an actual risk. So, what is the return value for enacting measures that hopefully stave off an ill-defined safety risk? At one extreme, if we swing toward complete risk aversion and advocate for a “more is more” approach when it comes to safety measures, then perhaps all of us should take Hibiclens showers and wear space suits when seeing patients.