The Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss on Health Care Outcomes

Man hospitalized from a fall related to his untreated hearing loss.

Research estimates 43% of patients over 60 may be missing important health information because of hearing loss. At a time when heeding medical guidance is so crucial, patients might be missing vital details about their care.

There is a Worldwide Hearing Epidemic

Hearing loss is a big problem. Worldwide, one third of individuals over the age of 65 have debilitating hearing loss.

But astoundingly, if we go a little deeper we find that only 30% of those people who have debilitating hearing loss have taken steps to improve their situation. When it comes to medical care, this is bad news.

With Health Care – Communication is Key

Miscommunication is one of the major causes of medical errors, and medical errors are still one of the leading causes of death. A study from Harvard revealed that as many as 37% of severe injuries that were caused by medical errors could have been avoided with better communication. Lives could be saved if crucial information could be better communicated with patients.

How Medical Care is Affected by Hearing Loss

When you are talking to pharmacists, nurses, or doctors there is some information you won’t want to miss so let’s not dwell on statistics.

Doctors and nurses advise you regarding specific health goals. They might talk about what healthy levels are for things like blood sugar or blood pressure. There are some things that can be harmful if they are not controlled in a way that your health care professional advises. You might be missing important pieces of advice that would help you handle your situation.

You might be in a situation where your physician informs you that you need medical care. You may not get the help that you need because you didn’t completely understand what your doctor was saying.

Your pharmacist could try to give you a warning about dangerous side effects or drug interactions. You could wind up in the hospital or worse because you thought you heard everything but you didn’t.

Your physical therapist puts you on a strength-building regimen but warns you not to engage in a specific activity. You might suffer a severe fall because you missed that advice.

Why Communicating Medical Information is Especially Demanding

Putting medical data in the proper context is particularly challenging. When you suffer from hearing loss, you use context to “fill in the blanks” where you missed something. Compensating for hearing loss is something your brain is in fact pretty good at. You might even come to believe that you heard something that you actually didn’t hear, it’s that good at compensating.

With medical data something as small as a “don’t” or “not” can totally change the meaning of a sentence. A danger zone, goal, or dosage, could be
completely altered with one missed number.

The slightest detail makes a big difference when it comes to medical care. Misunderstanding them has been shown to lead to medical mistakes.

Having Your Hearing Loss Addressed

You could be missing important medical advice if you suffer from hearing loss. Now is the time to take the appropriate steps to conserve your hearing.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.