The Washington State Academy of Audiology (WSAA), Washington Speech-Language Hearing Association (WSLHA), Washington Hearing Society (WHS), and the Northwest Academy of Otolaryngology (NWAO) released a joint statement today warning consumers in Washington state about over-the-counter (OTC) type hearing aids. WSAA President-elect Kevin Liebe, AuD, noted in an email that these organizations are cooperating in an unprecedented manner to inform the public about the importance of seeking professional help when confronted with hearing loss, and “we hope that it will inspire other state organizations to follow suit.”
The press release reads:
The Washington State Academy of Audiology (WSAA), Washington Speech-Language Hearing Association (WSLHA), Washington Hearing Society (WHS), and the Northwest Academy of Otolaryngology (NWAO) have joined forces to help inform Washington consumers on the importance of seeking professional hearing care.
Growing concern over the unlicensed sale of hearing aids over the counter, the Internet, or through the mail, at times without warning consumers, has prompted Washington’s hearing health organizations to issue the public statement.
“Any hearing aid sales and delivery model that circumvents the hearing healthcare professional poses a risk to consumers,” says Dr Kevin Liebe, audiologist and President-Elect of WSAA. “At a time when even major insurance companies are promoting a mail-order ‘one size fits all’ approach to hearing care, we hope our collaborative efforts will help further educate the public on the importance of seeking evaluation and treatment from a professional.”
Unlike personal amplifiers, which are not intended to treat hearing loss, hearing aids are medical devices and are therefore subject to state and federal regulations. Washington, like most states, requires that hearing aids be evaluated and fit by a licensed professional. Professionals licensed to dispense hearing aids include: Audiologists, Hearing Instrument Specialists, and Otolaryngologists (ENT physicians).
All four Washington hearing health organizations hold serious health and safety concerns about the sale of hearing aids without examination and guidance by licensed professionals. They strongly encourage the estimated 700,000 people with hearing loss in the state of Washington and their families, to seek the advice of a state licensed professional, to ensure they are receiving the most appropriate care.