Can a Licensed Hearing Aid Technician prescribe Hearing Aids to a patient with Tinnitus, or Must this be done by an Licensed Audiologist or ENT?

#1

Can a Licensed Hearing Aid Technician prescribe, fit and deliver Hearing Aids to a patient with Tinnitus, or does that require a Licensed Audiologist.

Unable to find a licensed, independent, Licensed Audiologist on the Island of Hawaii, I found one on the Island of Oahu.

Due to numerous issues I incurred from Beltone Hearing Aid Center of Hilo Hawaii in 2017–prescribed based upon testing by Joe Palomino, “Hearing Aid Specialist” Hawaii License #157–but not as an Audiologist.

I gently requested Audiologist credentials when I told Joe I was in Grad School in Kentucky to get Hawaii licensure in Clinical Mental Health Counseling–and I wondered the location of his alma mater was in Audiology. He hemmed and hawed, but never answered my question, stating instead that his current Hawaii State License was hanging on the wall. Since then, I have learned many other things I place in the category "Very Interesting", based upon my extensive research of the databases of Hawaii Records, Regulations, Rules, Requirements, License Holders, Tax Records, etc.:

Beltone Hearing Center, or any business with a name including the word "Beltone" is:

  • NOT currently registered to operate within the State of Hawaii,
  • does NOT have a current Excise Tax License,
  • has not filed or paid Excise Tax for at least three years,
  • has not filed or paid Hawaii Income Tax for at least three years,
  • has not filed or paid Federal Income Tax for at least three years,
  • does not appear to have obtained any County of Hawaii building permits required to:
  • put up the two signs outside the building, permits for the signs, building space, or connection to Hawaii Electric Light Company,
  • occupy the premises at 2100 Kanoelehua St Unit B5,
  • the landlord PTC Partners is not concerned because another unspecified company, that according to the grapevine, sounded similar to “RN Resound”, the Danish Hearing Aid Manufacturer that licenses the Beltone technology, is in final negotiations for that very spot,
  • any County electrical permits for the signs, building space, or connection to Hawaii Electric Light Company

When I called Beltone, Lisa Deleon, CSR at Beltone of IL, insisted the Hilo Beltone Franchise was owned by Lora Leach, who met all of Beltone’s “strict Franchisee requirements.” When I called Lisa back I told by the Beltone HQ in Glenview, IL that Lora Leach does not appear to have ever held any variety of Professional Hearing Aid credential issued by the State of Hawaii, they refused to look into this issue, as the Beltone Hawaii office had been duly vetted! When I asked Lisa of Beltone to connect me to someone “higher up” in customer service, she informed me only the CEO of Beltone was above her! But when she refused to connect me with the CEO, or provide his contact information, I was beyond shock!

I later learned from Nancy Macklin, Director of External Affairs, Hearing Loss Association of America that after I spoke to her regarding Beltone, she emailed a Stephen, who Nancy referred to as a personal contact that Nancy had because he was the Customer Service Manager of Beltone!

…to be continued.

Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii,

Glenn P. Ordell

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#2

I’m sure licensed hearing aid technician can prescribe a hearing aid to somebody with tinnitus, but I don’t know if they can attempt to treat the tinnitus. My impression after dealing with tinnitus for years and a fair amount of reading is that it’s something one learns to live with. My bias is to stay away from branded hearing aid stores like Beltone and Miracle Ear.

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#3

You can search for qualified audiologists on the American Academy of Audiology Web site. They do have some members listed in Hawaii.

https://memberportal.audiology.org/Directories/Find-an-Audiologist?protected=false

Also, if I am not mistaken, Beltone is the retail hearing aid division of GN Resound (parent company). I don’t know their rules, but it’s possible that a Beltone franchise owner does not have be be credentialed in Audiology. However, I would assume (and expect that) the person doing the hearing aid fitting would hold a credential and a valid license.

Maybe some of the audiologists and hearing instrument specialists can chime in.

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#4

Dear MDB,

Thank you for thoughts. However, I must challenge you to consider changing your word choice, replacing the word “bias”, based upon my research, to “One of the Greatest Truths” when attempting to navigate the hearing aid jungle (i.e.–industry!!!)

When I researched the tinnitus issue, I learned that because of the many possible causes of tinnitus, it can only be diagnosed by an Audiologist. The Audiologist can then perform some additional tests as well as utilize other diagnostic techniques to find the best “fit” for people suffering from this malady. In some cases, if the Audiologist suspects a medical problem (diseases outside the ear or requiring ear surgery). If so, then a referral to an ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) Medical Doctor would be mandated.

Hearing aid manufacturers tend to focus on different types of hearing problems. Also, some hearing aids provide a more appropriate solution for any given set of problems–proving your point for the need of brand independence when making this choice.

Everything I learned from my research was confirmed by a very kind, Licensed Doctor of Audiologist from the Island of Oahu (Honolulu). At this time, my Primary Care Physician (PCP) is attempting to schedule an appointment with her–because even my PCP was able to find an independent Audiologist on the Island of Hawaii.

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#5

Yes, I would agree with you that Hearing Aid Specialists cannot diagnose nor treat tinnitus. My take from my own experience and from a fair amount of reading is that tinnitus does not really impact hearing aid choice. Amplification may (or may not) help the tinnitus, but for the vast majority of us, it’s something we learn to live with. The less one focuses on it, the better. I would go as far as to say that going on a search for a “cure,” could make it worse.

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