Audiologist wearing a mask when in contact with patients

Does your audiologist,

Take mask off when he/she communicates in private office?
Take mask off after reprograming HA to gauge how you hear?
Allow you to take mask off to make custom HA molds?
Is the 6’ distance rule enforced in Audi’s office or not necessary

Bottom line I don’t think anyone would want to demo a new hearing aid, if their respective audiologist was wearing a mask during initial visits and testing, But maybe each Audi office is different?

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No, no, no, and generally yes when it’s not required to be closer. Why are we obsessing over this lately? Yes, it’s hard. But we can’t control it.

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The question is not related to if “it’s hard or easy”. The question is related to proper testing of hearing aids and making sure new hearing aids are programed/set properly to one’s hearing loss. When you test new HA’s your Audi will ask “how do you hear me now”. This goes back and forth for a while for different HA settings and programs. It’s a critical process that determines the effectiveness of any HA anyone buys. Pre coronavirus it was done with no mask on either party with an Audi probably 4, 5 feet away from patient. I seriously doubt the effectiveness of testing HA adjustments, if the person you’re talking to (Audi) is wearing a mask, which creates muffling sounds. If that’s the case then put me in a sound booth and let me listen to recorded sounds, speech that is not obstructed by a face mask. Then at least I can judge if my Audi is making correct HA program changes. Yes we can’t control coronavirus, but we can control sound judgement and use other techniques to make sure someone buying a $2000 plus HA is getting what they paid for.

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You’re making an assumption that every audiologist does setup like yours. My audiologist is not the primary sound source for evaluation in her office. We use talking on the phone, televisions in the office, talking with other patients, prerecorded samples, in addition to her talking…It’s far more realistic than one person talking in a quiet room. Though obviously it’s more complicated and it takes longer. Now, when I go in for my update with earmolds (any time now) maybe they will demask briefly but given the number of folks she’s interacting with I don’t expect that.

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Well I certainly like your Audi’s “smorgasbord” selection of using different methods to test one hearing level with new HA’s. Most Audi’s (if not all) test and reprogram someone’s new aid(s) in a quiet office setting. That’s it. Then when finished its out into the real world when you find out how your hearings do in various hearing environments. I’ve never seen a TV in an Audi’s office much less been offered prerecorded samples to listen to - which would be great if offered. Maybe if you buy a HA at Costco, you can walk around the store, listen to a TV and then come back and ask for readjustments.

Totally agree that gauging someone’s hearing level (with new aids) in a quiet room is not the ideal setting. But when an Audi has other patients waiting and you only have an hour to make adjustment, you usually don’t see such a wide degree of options (you mentioned) to test various levels. One also has to factor in the level of someone’s hearing loss, when communicating through a mask. A person with a minor loss of hearing might not really notice any difference in communication where someone with a profound hearing loss might be totally shut off. All I’m saying is when it comes to testing HA’s, sometimes you put the “patient” first, with an Audi standing back back six feet, removing his/her mask to ask “how do you hear me”. Takes only a few seconds and if the HA user is wearing a mask - what’s the BIG deal?

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I have been wearing hearing aids for over 15 years and I can tell you that unless you are very lucky you are going to need a good many different adjustments to get to hear with aids the way you need to. My aids I have now took an appointment every month for almost 15 months to get them the best they are going to be for my needs. The more complicated your hearing and the more complicated the hearing aids the more time it takes to adjust them.
For me it means having note to give to my Audi on what is working and what isn’t and having him make adjustments, then go out in the real world with the aids and keep more notes and then more adjustments.
I am a retired electronics technician/software engineer so I am use the this type of experimenting and it just comes naturally. But I have to admit my Audi has been very patient and willing to work with me to learn my needs and to learn the aids.
Be patient take notes and be willing to get the needed adjustments

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We’re all going to be wearing masks in public indoor places, at least in my state, for the foreseeable future. I’d rather they tune for that and I can turn the volume down if I need. Since the lip-reading is now gone, it’s challenging enough. I have very little expectation of success at this point. The big deal is if your audi has an asymptomatic case with a client base that is largely retired folks. I have only seen other people my age twice in her office, the remainder have been much older to elderly. I guess it comes down to the risk the patient is willing to take. I am confident if I asked her to pull the mask down, she would do so, because she listens to me (and I assume the other patients as well).

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Sorry - cvkemp - I some what “trump” you in wearing hearing aid. I was issued my first HA at 23 and am now 66 years old. So 43 years with HA someone negates someone with 15 years. No need to take notes - I’ve been there - seen that.

You should update your profile says you’ve work for ten years…

Only been a few months for me so maybe I get more attention by virtue of that and the fact that I’m still in the workforce?. Dunno.

The notes are very important, I email them to my a head of time of my appointment and my Audi is ready and waiting to make the adjustments and I am in and out faster then trying to explain something to him in person. I can also do a much better job of explaining things when I write it down and read over to insure that I really said what I meant to say. It is the experienced engineers way of doing things. The time wearing hearing aids is important because you know from experience what is needed normally. I do volunteer work at the VA clinic and I shake my head at the number that get hearing aids and expect them to work the first time all the time. Aids now days are very complicated and takes a lot of understanding to adjust, and the more complicated the hearing issues that adds to it. So I do disagree with you that notes are not important for new users and even old ones.

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Oh notes are important but what’s more important is doing your own research before you buy a hearing aid. Google wasn’t around back in 1976 when I received my first Starkey. I’ve got way more hands on experience then you cvkemp dealing with HA’s, so please don’t tell me “aids are very complicated”. That’s rather condescending, This isn’t a competition or someone thinking he/she knows more about this or that. We are here to share information on HA’s and hearing loss and you don’t have to be a current or ex engineer to do that.

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Oh so true, just something I have learned as I first started using hearing aids. But something I have learned that is even more important is that you have to have a very good Audi first and foremost. A good Audi can take an average hearing aid and make it near perfect. A poor Audi will make the best hearing aid the worst you ever had.

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I’ve learned over the years there are two types of hearing aid dealers/audi’s. There’s one group that wants to make a sale/commission first and deal with your hearing loss second. Then there is another group that’s more concerned about general hearing and making sure you’re satisfied with new HA’s, while putting their commission second. You need to find that (second group) to truly get the best hearing aid you can at hopefully an affordable price.

I go to a totally different set up. I do not pay for my hearing aids. I am a Veteran with service related hearing loss, and I get my aids from the Veterans Administration, I have never been given anything but the top of the line hearing aids, supplies and extras that I need to survive in the hearing world. Even with that said I have had less that the best Audis before and that makes a world of difference in how the aids are set up. I do have my choice of hearing aids, but I have learned that if I really trust my Audi then I will get the best for me by listening to my Audi and accepting his/her advise.

My HA dispenser wore a mask and face shield as well as gloves for my visit to fit my new ReSound device. I kept my mask on the entire time. We also kept the appointment as brief as possible. This was at Redwood City CA Costco in mid May and I was very nervous about going in but the HA area is located in a far corner of the store where there is hardly any foot traffic and I felt OK to go in rather than keep waiting any longer to get my HA.
Josie

Well that’s unfortunately the dilemma since the coronavirus isn’t going anywhere for the next several years. And if we get lucky a vaccine might be in mass production mid-2021. Between now and then there is going to be a heck of a lot of people wearing masks, except for our noted President. In the near future when I test HA’s I’m hoping my new audi has an actual recording I can listen to (at audi office) to properly judge HA’s settings. If my only option is to rely on my audi’s verbal instruction through a face mask and “can you hear me now” stuff - its probably going to take me several visits to get things right. Hopefully if there’s decent distance between the HA tester and the HA user (say 10 feet) both parties should be able to take off their mask and communicate normally. Especially if both parties go through a temperature check and show no signs of virus. Those who bought HA’s before this crisis and are happy with them really had good timing.

Not to nitpick, but from what we currently know about transmission risk in an office setting, temperature checks and symptomatology are relatively weak surrogates for risk mitigation. It’s the asymptomatic spreader we need to be careful of. Therefore breaching any protective procedure is really unwise and I really hope that as patients we don’t try to persuade our healthcare professionals to “drop the mask” even occasionally.
Hopefully there will be other ways to manage this particular scenario over the coming weeks. Maybe see-through masks or visors?
But just a sanity check. Think of all the people infected by other infectious diseases in normal times because we don’t take basic sanitary precautions in this setting. Hopefully a big benefit of this pandemic will be a rise in sensible behavior in flu season (wearing masks if you have symptoms, using disposable tissues, washing hands regularly, staying at home when needed, etc.)

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Not sure what country you’re from Ukpa, but here in the U.S. approx. 50% of adult population claim they won’t take a coronavirus vaccine, if successfully produced. We will see if that percentage holds if and when a vaccine is found, but you can throw sensible behavior out the door in the “good ol US of A”. Our president doesn’t wear a mask and now we have hundred of thousands of people screaming and yelling at each other (inches apart) due to police brutality (and more). So any guess how legal demonstrations and riots through out the U.S. are going to impact future coronavirus illnesses/death? The numbers will go up.

Audiologist are certainly aware of “reduced” hearing capabilities of the hearing impaired, especially so when someone is communicating through a mask. So we will leave it up to the “specialists” to deal with hearing loss, trial of new HA’s and testing of HA with masks on and masks off. When I see people on TV screaming at police a foot from their face, I think my Audi can remove his/her mask 10 feet away and calmly ask “how I am hearing him or her”.

Like your post - but you’re not really seeing the forest for the trees here in the U.S., since a very large percentage of citizens here (not me) think you can throw masks out the window and move on with your life.

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One option you have is to do distance programming if your hearing aids support that option. You can be in your home and have a friend or family member speak to you without a mask if that is crucial to you. That option may not be available due to hearing aid brand and varied state licensure and dispensing laws, but you can ask.

In our office we will be wearing masks and shields. We have a limited supply of the clear masks for lip reading. We will only use the one brand that has been FDA tested and approved, and they are hard to come by. I’m waiting for delivery of a video otoscope so I don’t have to lean into a patients face. All this detail is just to give you a sense of how seriously we are taking this. I can’t speak for all audiologists, but we will NOT be taking off masks. I have a reasonably sized fitting room, but it would be difficult to get 6 feet away from the patient. You may just be in the room for a few minutes at a time, but we will be there all day, patient after patient…the risk goes up for us and for every patient seen in that room. Please remember that we can also have pre-existing condions, have family in high risk groups, and most of our patients are older. We have been seeing emergency patients, are buying a tent so we can do repairs in the parking lot (which will be horrible in the middle of summer), have been the people screening at the hospital door, etc. No one likes this, but we will do a lot to help our patients…we just are not willing to get sick or spread disease to a fragile population for the sake of tweaking a hearing aid without a mask.

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Ahh, OK but I think you miss one significant point. If I have my mask on how exactly am I threatening an audiologist welfare who is sitting 6, 8, 10 feet away? My mask prevents me from spreading germs or what ever. Also I have a N95 mask which offers more protection than a surgical mask does because it can filter out both large and small particles when the wearer inhales. As the name indicates, the mask is designed to block 95% of very small particles.

So your claiming if I wear a mask that blocks 95% of small particle (coming from my mouth and nose), and I sit a good distance back from my audiologist, say 8 to 10 feet I’m some how still a threat to my audiologist welfare if he/she takes mask off to ask me if I can hear clearly while testing new HA’s? Sorry don’t follow your logic. Now if I took my mask off then I can see the ramifications, if and its a big if (I have the coronavirus). But if I have no temperature, no symptoms of virus, been home for months and not traveled, etc. and I’m wearing a N95 mask - I don’t see the threat to anyone standing or sitting 8 - 10 feet away from me.

Maybe we should just “cut to the chase” and say in the future all audiologist’s should be in a completely different room than the person they are testing for a hearing loss, so we can guarantee a safe working environment. Sorry but someone cutting my hair, inches from my face is the person who should be concerned about his or her welfare with masks definitely worn by both parties. That to me is what’s called close proximity.

Sure you can have a spouse, friend, son, daughter speak to you at home with no mask, but that is after an audiologist has already set your HA’s to certain parameters. Those programming parameters or settings could be flawed if there is poor verbal communication between parties due to audiologist speaking with a mask on. Bottom line people are still going to get HA’s and at some point over the counter aids are going to be offered. Pre-setting hearing aids correctly is vital to HA performance and user experience. If an audi chooses not to take off his/her mask at a safe distance with the other party wearing a mask, then we’re going to have way, way more HA adjustment being done over a longer period of time.

So next time I look into getting new HA’s please don’t tell me (HA dealer/audi) I have only one visit allowed after initial visit to have HA’s reprogrammed. It’s going to take several visits if everyone is wearing masks which muffle speech, which in turn impact speech understanding.

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