Question for the Pros -- massively incorrect audiogram from an audiologist

Hey folks

I’ve been posting a good bit recently about my journey into the world of HAs and I just came from a hearing test with my new audiologist. My previous one I had used for about 15 years and he was the only audi I had ever had an adult hearing test with.

So after running the tests 3 different times with the new audi … it turns out that I in fact do NOT have any significant hearing loss. Tinnitus yet (which is hard to deny when your ears ring 24/7) but as for actual loss my worst score across the board was 20. My previous audiogram results are in my signature below and from my memory were honestly not all that far off from what I remember of my previous ones with my old audiologist.

I’m somewhere between super happy and incredibly upset at the moment. I don’t think it would have been something he did deliberately and it freaks me out a bit that over 15 years I have been getting the same results from him. I’m quite confident that the new audiologist I saw today was absolutely spot on with her testing.

I scored 100% on both ears for speech recognition tests and she showed me the plot of all 3 “beep” tests we did, which were next to identical. Her gear is all quite new and is a reputable fully digital testing setup. We used proper earpieces (yellow foam inserts, properly labelled left and right boxes and tubes feeding them, etc). My previous audi used a really old looking type setup and quite old “can” style headphones, etc. It honestly looked like his gear might have been from the 70’s. What she did with me today was seriously more thorough than anything my previous audi had ever done with me.

My question is this … how do I approach him about this? Like I say he seems like a super nice guy and is in fact published in the field, does posts on reputable audiology sites and even gives papers at conferences. I’m just wondering if it’s possible that something is seriously amiss with his setup and he has no idea. I’m also very concerned that he treats a LOT of people (specifically poor musicians!) and if they are getting the same kind of results that I got over 3 attempts there is a lot of people that think their hearing is a lot worse than the reality of it and maybe even have HAs that don’t need them, etc (that’s exactly the boat that I was in).

My issue is I’m just a guy (who honestly had a bad experience with his office and “divorced” him, albeit in a nice manner), so I’m not sure what it would mean if I just left jim voicemail or an email stating my concerns. I’m not sure if it would be cool (or even ethical) to ask my new audiologist to approach him about it, but I really and honestly think he needs to find out.

Any advice is appreciated!

You’re assuming he doesn’t already know. I’m cynical. Of course the new audi could be wrong as well. Maybe you need a tie-breaker audi?

It is possible that the new audi is wrong but I really and honestly think she’s right. I’m trying to not be cynical about the whole thing. His equipment in the office I visited was really old looking. It honestly looked like it might be tube based! Big multi-way rotary knob with detents kind of device and a pair of cans that looks like they were made in the 70s so if anyone’s gear is suspect I would think that old stuff is when compared to the brand new digital stuff the audi today used … also the fact that the older audi took literally 2 minutes to do my whole test while today we spent a good 30 minutes doing multiple run throughs of tests.

A longer test isn’t necessarily more accurate.

Do you have the bone conduction result for both tests - has this shifted?

The only real way to check is to motor along to a Costco and get a further test.

Even with a really poor seal from old cans you shouldn’t have a problem above 1Khz - Inserts are more accurate but the audiometer for both situations will be calibrated with whatever transducer is used. I assume that everybody was testing you with calibrated kit?

OTOH, it’s entirely possible that your loss has altered if it contains a conductive portion.

I’d take what Umbongo said as a better piece of advice than you’ll get from someone like me. He is one of the good audiologist and I’d take his advice to the bank. When you hear from me and many others you get our best advice but from a limited knowledge base. We see where we might be half right but that really doesn’t cut it. So the advice to talk to Costco or even an ENT (hopefully with insurance coverage) seems a logical next step.

The new audi for sure was fully calibrated, the old one I think is very suspect in terms of when his gear may have last been calibrated. It really did look like something that was quite old and given his lacklustre approach to many other things (like keeping my records or having proper discussions with clients) I honestly suspect it may have been a long time since his kit was calibrated or checked for any issues. It’s literally exactly the same gear for the last 15 years, he used it on all of my tests with him. A big old metal case with a couple of push buttons, a couple of meters and a big black knob in the middle of it (presumably with detents to select frequencies). A very very analog setup without a doubt.

Here in Canada Costco doesn’t do this stuff, but I will arrange a 3rd and impartial test in the near future, and while I will ask questions of them I don’t think I will tell them the whole story here as I want something completely impartial.

I think one of the potential issues (which may or may not have had anything to do with things) is that the old audi did look in my ears and told me that I had a lot of wax build up in one of them (which I have an issue with so it was not a surprise), but he still did both of my previous tests with him with all the wax in my ear. That doesn’t account for why the results for BOTH ears seem to be so different.

The new audi did actually put something on my head that I think was possibly to test against conductivity (it was a clamp sort of thing that pressed in an area in behind and below my ear).

Thanks Ken and point taken, this is why I was specifically asking for advice from pros in this thread. Also I don’t know how/if I should approach him about this issue if it turns out the third test gives me the same results as yesterday’s test. I feel very strongly that I should approach him (even if he chooses to ignore me) as I don’t want anyone else to have the same experience that I’ve been going through here.

Hey Gerk, here in the metro-Vancouver area of BC there are multiple Costco stores that supply complete testing services and the same HA selection as the USA stores. That’s where I got my Trax 42s. I don’t know where you’re located in Canada, but maybe things have changed since you last checked?

Oh interesting. I’m outside Toronto and none of the stores I’ve been in here have it. The services also don’t seem to be listed on the Canadian version of the Costco site.

I’m also outside Toronto, several Costco in the GTA do have hearing aids center, check the Web Site which ones

Ok awesome, just looked it up and sure enough there are some that are not that far from me that have hearing centre stuff. I’ll have to do that.

@Um Bongo : I don’t have anything from the previous audi test except a photocopy of an audiogram. From yesterday’s test I don’t have any paperwork (but I can get it) … so no idea if there were any of those types of changes that happened.

I think you didn’t look in the store area the HA department is in. Here’s the link. 5 stores have HA in Toronto.

As to discussing it with the first audi and you seem comfortable doing so, I would do that. He seems like a decent individual and it is a generous thing on your part. Hopefully, he’ll also see it that way.

I’d be inclined to get an opinion from an ENT if the third result doesn’t agree with your other recent one.

Excellent and thanks for the advice. I will do just that if this new test doesn’t match up and in the meantime I will do a bit of my own research on this as well. I really appreciated the advice!