Much uncertainty exists about the lasting impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on our personal and professional lives. In the hearing care professions, there will be an increased focus on the need to sanitize items that come in frequent contact with patients, such as transducer cables from audiometers, immittance instruments, OAE analyzers, and hearing instrument verification systems, just to name a few. It’s also quite possible that, at least for the near future, hearing care professionals (HCPs) will want to limit close contact with patients. In a profession that requires close contact during almost all patient encounters, this is going to be a challenge, to say the least.
It’s been almost thirty years since I administered a word recognition test (back then it was called speech discrimination). In many ways, not much has changed. The majority of audiologists continue to administer 25-word WR test lists via monitored live voice (MLV) at a single sensation level to determine if the WR scores are consistent with the audiometric configurations of each ear, the type of hearing loss, and if the results are symmetrical. Our otolaryngology colleagues use the results of the WR test as one variable to decide if the patient should be referred for an MRI. In fact, the American Academy of Otolaryngology has published guidelines to determine when asymmetry in cases of SNHL warrant an MRI (more on that later).
“The calibration of my bone conduction oscillator is off” is one of the more frequent calls our service department receives. If some basic over-the-phone troubleshooting doesn’t alleviate the concern, we schedule a service call to check the accuracy of the BC oscillator’s output.If I were a gambler, I’d win a lot of money betting on the outcome being that the calibration is within acceptable tolerance as defined in the ANSI S3.6 standard for audiometers.