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Friday, November 2, 2018

Hearing Loss a Risk for Hospital Readmission

Adults aged 65 and over with hearing loss are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital compared to those with normal hearing, a new study found (J Am Geriatr Soc. 2018 Oct 5. doi: 10.1111/jgs.15545. [Epub ahead of print]). Researchers from New York University identified 4,436 patients 65 and older who reported difficulty communicating with health care personnel due to their hearing loss, and compared the hospitalization experiences of those with and those without this difficulty. They found that those with difficulty communicating had a 32 percent increase in the likelihood of being readmitted within 30 days after accounting for age, number of medical problems, and other sociodemographic factors.

Jan Blustein, MD, PhD, a professor of health policy and medicine at NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and a senior author of the study, said 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 the hospital," he said in a press release. Blustein also noted that there are several low-cost technological approaches to helping older people with hearing loss to hear better, but few hospitals use them. "We hope that our research will help raise awareness of the potential to improve patient care by attending to hearing loss," he said.