On the other hand, justifying current practices based solely on the argument, “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it” blinds us to new opportunities. While individual experiences should not be discounted, we also need to be aware that any one person’s experience has enormous biases—even though individually we feel them to be grounded in reality. How well is our anecdotal experience able to detect potential clinical manifestations of equipment contamination? The purported increased risk may be too subtle for us to individually recognize. While I acknowledge that I make lots of medical decisions based on my own experience, I also realize that my experience can be fallible. It is important that we not dismiss new thoughts and ideas too quickly just because they challenge our preconceptions. Instead, let us challenge issues in an intellectually honest manner and not close ourselves off to reasoned deliberation.
Explore this issue:December 2018
Regulatory and accrediting agencies look to advisory groups such as AORN, CDC, WHO, and ACS, who put forth their own recommendations. As individuals, our voices were too small to be heard. Collectively, as the AAO–HNS, we were able to sit with The Joint Commission leadership to voice concerns of overinterpretation that have led to confusion and unnecessary time and expense, and could interfere with patient safety. As a body, the Academy is an advocate for both physicians and patients. In playing the role of patient advocate, when the evidence is shaky, it is easier to fall back upon the more seemingly “safe” approach and apply the strictest guidance. However, a balance should be struck to pursue what is reasonable and responsible.
Dr. Chang is associate clinical professor of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Missouri in Columbia.