If you have something that requires hospitalization, you likely want to get it taken care of and get home as soon as possible – and you certainly don’t want to go back. New research indicates that patients who suffer from hearing loss are frequently re-admitted to the hospital less than a month after discharge.
Hospital Stays and Hearing Loss
Hearing loss affects about 48 million Americans. That’s one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 and nearly half of the population over 75, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Researchers at New York University did an extensive review of data from a national survey and found that discharged hospital patients who reported they had trouble communicating with their doctors had a 32% chance of readmission within the next month. One of the study’s authors, Jan Blustein, noted hospitals are often noisy chaotic places where understanding what is being said is challenging – particularly for people with hearing loss. Since seniors have a higher likelihood of hospital admission, this is a growing problem amongst older Americans, who also have a higher chance of readmission.
Hospital Discharge Study
The study used 4,436 participants who were 65 years old and older. All had been hospitalized between 2010 and 2013. About 12% self-reported that they had hearing difficulties that made it hard for them to communicate with doctors and other medical personnel. This communication issue has also shown up in other studies. The New York study authors wrote in the study conclusion that raising awareness of the high prevalence of hearing loss among seniors with medical staff and educating them on how to communicate with people with hearing difficulties would go a long way to curtailing readmission costs for the insurance company and the patients. Few hospitals, according to research, even asked patients about hearing loss upon admission.
Studies reveal that older patients with vision or hearing barriers have considerable issues communicating with medical staff. Hearing loss also increases the risk for depression among hospital patients who were recently released, and this contributed to an increased chance of readmission.
Participants in one study who were deaf or hard of hearing said they were concerned about the medication they had received at the hospital. Some admitted they didn’t fully understand instructions when they were released and the fear of misusing the medication caused them to not use it all. This contributed to some readmissions.
General research shows people with hearing loss may have trouble understanding key information such as why they are taking the medication given to them at discharge and how to take that medication. They also may not completely understand what symptoms they should be watching for and how to manage them. The study noted patients who were deaf or hard of hearing had less contact with medical professionals simply because those professionals were not well versed on how to communicate with deaf or hard of hearing individuals. The level of communication was found to be “far less” than the level of communication and interaction between medical staff and “hearing” patients.
The New York study indicated there are low cost, low tech ways to improve communication such as using a whiteboard or paper and pencil. It is also helpful to decrease background noise in a patients’ room by turning off the TV and speaking to the patient face-to-face. Communication with aftercare providers sometimes contributed to readmission. Some of the same issues patients found in the hospital regarding communication extended to aftercare facilities, as well as drop-in after care providers. This lack of communication decreased the awareness of the after-care provider on how well the patient was recovering and what medical issues they were still encountering.
Depression and Readmission
Patients suffering from hearing loss are less likely to participate in social activities, and this lack of social interaction and isolation can hamper recovery, according to some research. Hearing loss is very tiring because you must constantly try to understand the bits and pieces you hear, and fatigue and stress extend recovery time and lead to hospital readmission.
Visit Us at Desert Valley Audiology
Hearing tests are non-invasive and comprehensive and can provide important information about your hearing abilities. Treating hearing loss extends beyond just the sense of hearing – it brings significant benefits to your overall health and well-being. If a hearing loss is detected, our team at Desert Valley can help you find the perfect hearing aids to meet your needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.