Intended for healthcare professionals

Practice Observed

Survey of general practitioners' treatment of the discharging ear

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 11 June 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:1649
  1. R C Bickerton,
  2. C Roberts,
  3. J T Little


    The prescribing habits of all (401) general practitioners in the North Staffordshire health district for the treatment of otorrhoea was ascertained by questionnaire; 301 (75%) responded. Of those, 198 (66%) would not give topical treatment when the tympanic membrane was perforated. Only 41 (14%) would give topical treatment in cases of discharging grommets. Although there is a theoretical risk of ototoxicity to aminoglycosides in topical preparations, this is the most effective medical treatment and is the standard teaching advocated in specialist textbooks and practised by otolaryngologists.

    The results of the survey suggest that there is undue concern about possible ototoxicity and a degree of confusion in the management of this common clinical condition.