A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

Imparting the Value of Hearing Aids to Clueless Medical Staff

In Hearing aids, Hearing Loss, Hospital Accoommodation on March 18, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Sometimes when I go to doctor’s offices or hospitals it happens that I have to take my hearing aids out.   For example, when I see the Physical Therapist, I know I may want to take my hearing aids off when he massages my neck.  I have a case in my purse that keeps them safe from water, oil, and dust.   Occasionally the request to remove my hearing aids catches me off guard.  Like yesterday.

I had to have an MRI.  The technician took me to a small room, instructed me to undress and put on a gown.  My personal belongings were to be placed into a locker.  You can bring the key with you, she explained.

“What about my hearing aids and glasses?” I asked.

“Keep them on.”

This surprised me, since the MRI was going to be done on my neck.  If I had been thinking clearly I would have realized.   Ten minutes later  she asked me to remove my glasses and hearing aids, and to place them on a counter.  Loose.  Out in the open.  In a hallway.

This has happened before during out patient surgeries.  “I’m just going to put them over here on the counter,” the nurse will say.  Loose.  Out in the open.  Near water and chemicals.

“You do know they cost thousands of dollars?” I will ask, “and if you lose them or damage them with water or if someone accidentally scoops them up with a paper towel and throws them away, it will cost the hospital $6000.00  to replace them?”

This is almost always met with a gasp.  They didn’t know.

My hearing aids are worth more than any of my things back in the locker.   They are worth more than a pair of diamond earrings.   You wouldn’t want your diamond earrings sitting out in the open, would you? Because someone might steal them.  I am not sure if people steal hearing aids, but you can never be too careful.  I would guess a desperate person might steal anything that could be sold at a pawn shop.

Hearing aids are even more valuable than the $6000.00 replacement cost I mentioned, because they represent weeks of painstaking programming.    They may be  irreplaceable.  It is a known fact that one hearing aid may not sound as good as the next, even when they are the same brands and models.  Hearing aids are like cars.  Sometimes you get a lemon.

So it pains me to see medical staff treating a pair of hearing aids like a small Happy Meal toy.

“You can just put them right here on this counter before you go inside.”

I try to look at it from their point of view.  A pair of hearing aids look like nothing more than shapeless little globs of plastic and rubber-in most cases colorless gray or beige.  Mine are zebra striped, kidney shaped with pinkish blobs of rubberized ear mold material attached.   Most people are shocked by the cost and don’t know about the weeks of programming.   That’s why those of us who wear hearing aids must speak up.  Medical staff won’t learn if we never say anything.

“You want me to put them here on this counter?  Out in the open, in the hall like this?  You do realize they would cost $6000.00 to replace?”

<gasp>

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  1. I had an MRI done on Feb. 28th, and they put a kleenex down on a counter right outside the MRI room for my hearing aid and glasses. I didn’t even think of the possibility of the hearing aid being stolen/lost/damaged/etc. Wow. Guess I wasn’t too concerned that morning though, I was the only “patient” there at the time getting the MRI done. Wasn’t a busy facility, but maybe I just got lucky. I don’t know.

  2. I’m gasping. I’ve never had this happen to me, but I know if it had, I would have stood there in shock. Good for you for speaking up and doing a little educating!

    • Meghan- My clinic is busy, but it’s just a small suburban town, not a city hospital. Because I work in a public library, maybe I’m more aware of how common theft is. It’s surprising what people steal, when and how they do it right under your nose. Then again, if medical staff do not realize how expensive our hearing aids are, who is to say someone won’t decide to have a cup of coffee while you’re in the MRI tunnel? They might set their styrofoam cup down right next to your aids, then OOPS!

  3. It’s a no-win situation. I’m helpless without my aids and glasses. I have to make that clear to anyone before I take them off and place them out of reach. Without my aids, I wouldn’t be able to answer qustions or follow directions. Without my glasses, I probably wouldn’t be able to find my way back and open the locker.

  4. Love the analogy you draw between hearing aids and diamond earrings. So true!

  5. This can’t be a new thing for most hospitals, hearing aids and glasses. Most people at some point will have at least one if not both, you would think that there would be some thought to the needs of the “customer” (that being you).

  6. Not all of us are unthinking. I am the professional ( with a severe senorineural loss) …VERY difficult to work in an OR (hazards) & lip reading is of minimal while masked up. I have pay close attention to everything all the time. Had to graduate to mind reading with surgeons.Most know of my loss. Some are surprised when they discover it after years of working with me. I do take very good care of glasses & hearing aids. It is best for a patient to bring their cases with them to the hospital. Best to eval ea situation about keeping or passing to family or friend, some time a hard call…Bob

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