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Mystery boxes on the floor of the conference room… I wonder what’s inside?

One area of audiology that I feel gets neglected at times in our training programs is cerumen management. It is a part of practice that not all professionals feel comfortable with, but it can make a big IMPACT (see what I did there?) on the efficiency of our practices. Professionals competent in cerumen management can save time that would have been lost due to wasted appointments. I have seen, on multiple occasions, where an individual has come in for an ear impression that can’t be completed due to impacted cerumen. If cerumen management had been able to be performed, it would have saved the patient’s time (no need to schedule a physician’s office visit and reschedule an appointment with the audiologist) and the clinic’s time (rebooking an appointment that could have been resolved initially). There are definitely times when cerumen impaction is beyond the expertise of the audiologist, such as cases when the cerumen is impacted very deeply and near the ear drum. Clinician’s should know their limits and not work beyond a depth at which they are comfortable. Another issue is reimbursement and this is an area in which I am still learning daily. (I’ll have to look into this and get back to you.) BUT if cerumen management were a reimbursable procedure code (this is opening a whole other can of worms about professional autonomy and audiology coding/billing but we can save that discussion for another post), then it could be an additional source of revenue for the practice.

What is this whole post leading up to you ask? On Friday, Rita Chaiken, well known within the audiology community, will be coming to the University of Memphis to conduct a 1 day cerumen management workshop with our students. Needless to say, I am very excited about this. I know a few audiologists who attended her workshop at AudiologyNOW this Spring and said it was a great experience. I’m hopeful this will be a fascinating learning opportunity that will help me hone those clinical skills. Stay tuned for a post about how everything goes on Friday.

How many of you perform cerumen management in your practices?