The Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss on Health Care Outcomes

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

Significant health information is missed by around 43% of patients who are 60 or older, as reported by recent studies. At a time when following medical guidance is so essential, patients might be missing vital details about their care.

Hearing Loss – A Global Epidemic

Hearing loss is a major issue. Worldwide, one third of people over the age of 65 have disabling hearing loss.

But astoundingly, if we look a little closer we discover that only 30% of those people who have disabling hearing loss have taken steps to improve their situation. This pattern isn’t good news for healthcare as we’ll illustrate next.

The Significance of Communication in Health Care

A major cause of death is medical error and miscommunication is a primary cause of medical error. A study from Harvard revealed that up to 37% of severe injuries that resulted from 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

Statistics can seem a little fuzzy and hard to get one’s head around so let’s look at important info you could miss when speaking with pharmacists, nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals.

Doctors and nurses work with you regarding specific health goals. They might explain what healthy levels are for things like blood sugar or blood pressure. There are certain things that can be harmful if they are not handled in a way that your health care professional advises. You may be missing crucial pieces of advice that would help you manage your situation.

These medical providers may explain danger zones that reveal that you require medical care. If you don’t understand completely what the physician is communicating, you could miss essential warning signs and put off on getting help.

Your pharmacist could try to warn you about harmful side effects or drug interactions. You think you heard everything but you lose a critical detail and end up in the hospital.

Maybe you get a warning about some hazardous activity from your physical therapist. You miss the advice and suffer a serious fall as a result.

Why Communicating Medical Information is Particularly Challenging

Communicating medical data is particularly challenging because of a little thing called context. When you have hearing loss, you utilize context to “fill in the blanks” where you missed something. Your brain is in fact very good at compensating for hearing loss. You might even come to believe that you heard something that you really didn’t hear, it’s that good at compensating.

The meaning of a sentence can be entirely changed, when addressing medical information, with something as basic as a “don’t” or “not”. One misunderstood number could completely alter a dosage, a goal, or a danger zone.

The smallest detail makes a big difference when it comes to medical care. When those little details are missed, it can result in serious medical issues.

Having Your Hearing Loss Addressed

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

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Schedule an appointment to see if hearing aids could benefit you.