The researchers at the New York University have published a new study examining the extent to which hearing loss contributes to the risk of patients’ hospital re-admission. Using the Medicare Current Beneficiary Study, they have identified patients over 65 years of age who said that they have previously had issues communicating with medical personnel due to their hearing loss. The researchers have then compared the rates of hospital readmission between those who had difficulty communicating and those who did not. They have found out that the subjects with difficulty communicating were 32% more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of their initial hospitalization, than those who do not have an issue communicating with medical personnel.
“People with hearing loss often have difficulty understanding speech in noisy and stressful situations,” said Jan Blustein, MD, PhD, professor of health policy and medicine at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and senior author of the study. “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. This puts them at risk for difficulties after they are discharged from hospital.”
The finding that hearing loss is an important risk for hospital readmission has not been previously demonstrated in academic studies, and suggests that hospitals need to do better by providing hearing assistance to those affected by hearing loss. The researchers hope that their new study will encourage hospitals to purchase equipment that would allow them to better serve hard of hearing patients.