Shouldn’t Medical Treatment Be Hearing Loss Friendly?

In preparation for a recent medical procedure, I received a call from a nurse with pre-op instructions. When I asked for them to be sent in writing, she balked. With many repeats and reminders, we made it through the instructions, but it made my wonder, “Shouldn’t medical treatment be hearing loss friendly?” This experience inspired my latest article for FindHearing on HHTM. See the excerpt below or read the full article here.

Lack of Hearing Access Creates Dangers in Hospital Settings

According to the World Health Organization, one in every ten people—nearly 700 million people worldwide—will have disabling hearing loss by 2050. While hearing loss impacts people of all generations, the prevalence increases with age, meaning as the population ages, hearing loss will become the norm rather than the exception in medical settings. And since older adults typically consume more healthcare services, it may already be. Medical training must adapt to meet the needs of this growing population. 

Indignities become dangerous when in a hospital setting. In this clip from “We Hear You,” our documentary about the lived hearing loss experience, Toni Iacolucci explains the significant challenges she faced when caring for her brother as he battled cancer many years ago.

Their struggles inspired her to advocate for better hearing access in hospital settings. Toni now serves on Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)’s Communication Access in Health Care task force to educate hospitals about how they can be more inclusive. The key is making sure communication is clear, precise, and provided in a way that works for each patient.

Some Easy Ways to Make Medical Care Hearing Loss Friendly

Problems like the one I had are easy to solve. Small changes in procedures could make communication clearer and less stressful. And as is the case with most accessibility measures, everyone would benefit.

1. Train personnel to speak slowly and clearly

This is helpful for people for hearing loss, but everyone else too. Medical jargon can be confusing or at least unfamiliar for everyone. Slow down to aid with comprehension.

2. Provide important details in writing

Nervousness and stress—which many of us feel with anything medical related—can make it harder to comprehend and retain information. When information is supplied in writing it is easier to refer back to and to share with family.

3. Read HLAA’s Guides for Effective Communication in Health Care

There are separate guides for patients and providers. One important recommendation is for each person with hearing loss to fill out a Communication Access Plan (CAP) to share with their doctors. The plan details communication requirements and preferences and can be incorporated into medical files at each doctor’s office. A sample CAP can be found here.

Continue reading the full list on HHTM.

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8 thoughts on “Shouldn’t Medical Treatment Be Hearing Loss Friendly?

  1. my two Lyric hearing aids had to be removed before getting an MRI. Since they cannot be (or should not be) reinserted again, I was left without hearing aids for the duration of my hospital stay until I could get back to my audiologist to have them replaced. Despite asking the healthcare professionals to either write on the erase board or a piece of paper soI could understand them, they all ignored my request. I could not even read their lips as they all had masks on. There was only one young nurse on one shift who was helpful and accommodating. I was grateful for her. Overall was a horrible experience.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      So frustrating! I wear Lyrics as well and I am able to take them in and out if necessary. You may want to talk to your audiologist about learning how to do that. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Susan Berger – Blogging is one big experiment for me. Will it work? Who knows. I'll link websites that have published my essays and maybe I'll write original posts. My topics will be observations, points of view and life as I see it. I'm still marinating...
    Susan Berger says:

    Thank you for the sample CAP–am printing and providing!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Excellent! I hope it will be helpful.

  3. I, too, thank you for the CAP form, but I’m not sure the last nurse I saw will bother reading it. I tried to explain to her that she needed only to speak into the microphone I held out to her, and I would read what she was saying in my Live Transcribe app on my cell phone. She became confrontational and spoke sharply to me from behind her mask. Since I am a lip reader, I had no idea what she was saying. I complained to my doctor when she arrived, but I have no idea if she talked to the nurse later. I almost dread going back.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      So frustrating. I am sorry that happened to you. Putting it in writing might make it easier for them to digest. Don’t give up advocating for your needs.

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