- Protect ourselves: Wash hands with soap and water for an adequate amount of time before and after any patient encounter. Be cognizant when our face is in close proximity to the patient’s. Wear a properly fitted face mask to prevent infection of yourself and the patient. Protect your eyes and all mucous membranes from cough and aerosols. Wear gloves. Wipe down everything you touch, including your phone and computer.
- Protect our patients: Allow for appropriate spacing in the waiting room. Limit visitors to those absolutely necessary. Avoid unnecessary appointments, tests, and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Inform patients of the theoretical risk of any procedure. Test them for COVID-19 when testing is available. Educate them on measures to take to mitigate their risk of getting the virus.
- Protect the specialty: We are the experts in examination of the head, neck, and upper aerodigestive tract, so let’s do our jobs, and do them well. Examine thoroughly. Feel the neck. Perform bimanual palpation. Scope patients when indicated. Perform the diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that only otolaryngologists perform. Take extraordinary care of your patients.
We must allow the scientific evidence to dictate our actions, and not make recommendations that are cost and process prohibitive without clear indication. We do not need conjecture and opinion; we need data and thoughtful consideration.
Explore This IssueJune 2020
As for private practices like ours, we’ll be fine. The disruptions of our workflow and revenue cycle are only transient inconveniences. If we dedicate ourselves to taking excellent care of our patients, they’ll be waiting for us when this is over, and we’ll be just as busy as ever. If I am certain of anything, I’m certain of this.
The best thing about our “new normal” is that we will still be able to take amazing, safe care of our patients, and we’ll be able to practice this most fulfilling and rewarding specialty of otolaryngology.
Dr. William R. Blythe has been in practice at East Alabama Ear, Nose and Throat, P.C., since 1997. He is also on the active medical staff at East Alabama Medical Center.