Latest posts by Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)
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You could be spending a lot more time in the hospital than you want if you have untreated hearing loss. Recent studies show that untreated hearing loss may contribute to re-occurring hospital visits. Treating hearing loss brings significant benefits to your overall health and well-being, and the revelations on hospital re-admission give us just one more reason to pay attention to our hearing health.
Studies on Hospital Re-admission and Hearing Loss
Researchers at New York University in New York City did a review of data from a national survey involving hospitals and patient readmission and found that discharged hospital patients who said they had trouble communicating with their doctors had a 32% chance of readmission within the next month. The study comprised of 4,436 participants who were 65 years old and older. All the participants had been hospitalized between 2010 and 2013. Overall, about 12% self-reported their hearing loss caused difficulties communicating with medical staff and their doctors.
Jan Blustein, one of the study’s authors, noted hospitals are often noisy chaotic places where clear communication can be challenging – particularly for people with hearing loss. Since seniors have a higher likelihood of hospital admission, this is a prevalent problem with individuals in that age group.
About 48 million Americans are suffering from hearing loss. Hearing loss affects about one in three people between the ages of 65 and the numbers just for age 74. Nearly half of the population over 75 is experiencing some hearing loss, according to the National Institutes of Health.
This same issue also shown up in other studies. Blustein and her fellow authors in the New York study concluded that raising awareness on the high incidence of hearing loss among seniors with the medical staff would be beneficial, and educating them on how to communicate with people with hearing difficulties would go a long way to curtailing readmission costs. A limited number of hospitals include hearing loss questions on their admission forms and sometimes this leads to patients being labeled as having cognitive difficulties, when it is actually hearing loss. It is also important that a patient understands all the questions during admission so there can be a thorough medical diagnosis.
Researchers in Canada conducted an “adverse event” study involving numerous hospital patients. An adverse event is an unintended injury or complication to a hospitalized patient. Patients with hearing or vision loss were more likely to suffer an adverse event at hospitals which complicated their recovery and prompted readmission.
Studies note older patients with vision or hearing barriers have considerable issues communicating with medical staff. Participants in one study who were deaf or hard of hearing said they were concerned about the medication they had received at the hospital as well as the medication they were given to take upon their release. Some admitted not using the medication since they didn’t know what it was for. This could lead to hospital re-admission. In addition, studies found patients with hearing loss had trouble understanding what they should watch for in terms of symptoms and recovery when they were discharged and how they could manage their discomfort – or what level of discomfort would necessitate calling a doctor.
Researchers found patients who were deaf or hard of hearing had less contact with medical professionals in the hospital simply because those professionals were not well versed on how to communicate with deaf or hard of hearing individuals. Several low cost, low-tech methods could be used by medical professionals to better communicate with the hard of hearing patients, the New York study authors noted. This included using a white board or a paper and pen to make sure using notes that the patient understood discharge instructions. They also suggested reducing noise in the patients’ room during medical consultations and discharge, and standing directly in the patients’ sight line when they spoke to them.
Visit Us at South Shore Hearing Center
People wait an average of five years to seek treatment for hearing loss, even if the symptoms may have appeared much sooner. Seeking treatment for hearing loss brings significant benefits to your life, health, and well-being. Contact us at South Shore Hearing Center and set up your hearing test today.