Hearing Loss and Hospital Readmission Rates

A recently released study for The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society by New York University researchers shows that, for individuals over the age of 65, hearing loss is an increased risk factor for hospital readmission.

These rates are a hotbed of current research, since Medicare will not pay for patient readmissions for certain conditions that occur within 30 days. Healthcare providers are working hard to curtail such situations.

The key issue with regards to hearing loss revolves around the ability of patients to communicate with healthcare workers. It was found that people who reported problems communicating with medical personnel  — after teasing out other factors — were 32 percent more likely to be readmitted within 30 days.

Since hospitals tend to be noisy, fast-paced environments, it’s not surprising that the hearing issues of patients might be a problem.

“Attending to hearing loss is a strategy that hospitals really have not tried, and if they tried it they might be able to reduce the risk of readmission for significant portion of their patients,” said NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service researcher Jan Blustein to Reuters.

“Hospitals are noisy chaotic places, and people with hearing loss may have trouble understanding key information, such as what medicines they should take after discharge, or how they should watch for or manage exacerbation of their symptoms,” he added. “This puts them at risk for difficulties after they are discharged from hospital.”

Obviously, having had hearing loss issues treated prior to hospitalization would be of great benefit. There are also methods and technology that hospitals can put in place that could lessen the problem.

Anyone who’s been hospitalized, or their caregivers, should be aware of these issues.

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