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Support for Greater Access to Hearing Aids with Patient Safety Preserved: Response to “Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017”

March 22, 2017 - 9:39am

ALEXANDRIA, VA —The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) supports access to over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids for adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss when paired with appropriate patient safety and consumer protections.

In responding to the introduction of the “Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017,” the AAO-HNS recognizes the leadership of Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and U.S. Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7) and Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA-4) in providing a new pathway for consumers to access assistive hearing devices.

To ensure patient safety is preserved, the Academy stands by its recommendation regarding the benefits of a medical evaluation by a physician, followed by a standardized hearing test (via a hearing health professional or appropriate online/technological source), before an individual purchases any type of basic hearing aid or other FDA-regulated assistive hearing device.

“Hearing loss is one of the most common issues faced by individuals as they age, and, unfortunately, many adults do not seek appropriate intervention when symptoms of hearing loss first appear to rule out medically-treatable causes of their condition, including impacted cerumen (earwax) or infection,” said James C. Denneny III, MD, Executive Vice President and CEO of the AAO-HNS.

“We support increased access to technologies that can improve hearing for mild-to-moderate hearing loss for adults 18 years and older. Receiving a medical evaluation prior to purchasing an OTC device helps ensure individuals receive the correct intervention to address their particular hearing loss.”

The AAO-HNS is the world’s largest medical organization representing specialists who treat the ear, nose, and throat, and related structures of the head and neck. The Academy represents approximately 11,000 otolaryngologist–head and neck surgeons in the United States who diagnose and treat disorders of those areas. The medical disorders treated by otolaryngologists are among the most common that afflict all Americans, young and old. They include chronic ear infection, sinusitis, snoring and sleep apnea, hearing loss, allergies and hay fever, swallowing disorders, nosebleeds, hoarseness, dizziness, and head and neck cancer. In the context of the hearing healthcare “debate,” otolaryngologist–head and neck surgeons are the only healthcare providers with the breadth of training and medical expertise to treat all aspects of hearing loss.

For more information regarding the AAO-HNS position on S. 670 and H.R. 1652, go to http://www.entnet.org/sites/default/files/aao-hns_letter_otc_hearing_aids_s.670.pdf

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