If you haven’t heard about it yet…here it is from the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The Update of the 1996 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation statement on hearing screenings for older adults,
“The USPSTF concluded that current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for hearing loss in asymptomatic adults aged 50 years or older.”
This recommendation applies to asymptomatic adults aged 50 years or older. It does not apply to persons seeking evaluation for perceived hearing problems or for cognitive or affective symptoms that may be related to hearing loss. These persons should be assessed for objective hearing impairment and treated when indicated.
You can view this one of two ways…glass half empty or glass half full.
Glass Half Empty
Primary care physicians, already difficult to convince to do just about anything can now point to this recommendation as an additional reason why they aren’t sending you any patients for something as easy and painless as a hearing screening.
Glass Hall Full
Lets get real. You probably have several great primary care doctors who already refer patients to you. My guess is (and this is the important part), they didn’t start sending you patients because the previous Preventative Task Force recommended that they send patients over age 50 for a hearing screening.
In all likelihood you cultivated the relationship through hard work. You made sure to visit their office every so often, that their patients were seen promptly and returned accurate and well written reports quickly.
The sky is not falling because some task force made an ill-advised choice. Take solace in the Statement by Dr. James Pacala, president of the American Geriatrics Society,
“The only detriments associated with hearing tests are “some anxiety” and the unreimbursed medical costs patients incur.” Dr. Pacala said, “He planned to continue offering them (hearing screenings) to patients. “I think we’ve oversold cancer screening, but in this case the harms are minimal to nonexistent, while the potential benefit is clear: When people are outfitted with hearing aids, they hear better.”
Find the Dr. Pacala’s in your medical community and continue to develop your referral sources just like you were doing last week and the week before. I hate be the one to tell you this, but if the USPSTF had gone the other way, your phone still wouldn’t have been ringing off the hook with a bevy of 50+ year old patients referred by their doctors.