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Overcoming Additional Barriers to Care for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Patients During COVID-19

Educational Objective
To understand the barriers to care for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Patients are experiencing during COVID-19
1 Credit CME

The arrival of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to the United States in early 2020 disrupted traditional clinical services and care. Health care institutions largely focused on managing the surge of COVID-19 patients while minimizing the risk of exposure and spread to those without the virus. To protect clinicians and patients, institutions mandated personal protective equipment for everyone, implemented visitation restrictions that bar visitors from assisting their loved ones in medical settings, and eliminated in-person medical interpreters. These safeguards jeopardize the ability of the 17% of all US adults with a hearing loss to effectively communicate with their clinicians,1 thus impeding their quality of care.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Michael M. McKee, MD, MPH, University of Michigan Medical School, Department of Family, 1018 Fuller St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 (mmmckee@med.umich.edu).

Published Online: July 16, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.1705

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

References
1.
Blackwell  DL , Lucas  JW , Clarke  TC . Summary health statistics for U.S. adults:10. National health interview survey, 2012 (PDF). National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat. 2014;10(260). Accessed April 14, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_260.pdf
2.
Reed  NS , Altan  A , Deal  JA ,  et al.  Trends in health care costs and utilization associated with untreated hearing loss over 10 years.   JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2019;145(1):27-34. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2018.2875PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
3.
US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Disability Rights Section. Americans with Disabilities Act. A business BRIEF: Communicating with people who are deaf and hard of hearing in hospital settings. Accessed April 14, 2020. https://www.ada.gov/hospcombr.htm
4.
Safe’N’Clear. Safe’N’Clear. Accessed April 14, 2020. https://safenclear.com/
5.
Padmanabhan  J , Premkumar  MJJ .  Machine Learning in Automatic Speech Recognition: A Survey.   IETE Tech Rev. 2015;32(4):240-241. doi:10.1080/02564602.2015.1010611Google ScholarCrossref
6.
National Association of the Deaf. Covid-19: Deaf and hard of hearing communication access recommendations for the hospital. Accessed April 14, 2020. https://www.nad.org/covid19-communication-access-recs-for-hospital/
7.
Association of Medical Professionals with hearing Losses. COVID-19 Resource List. Updated March 16, 2020. Accessed April 14, 2020. https://www.amphl.org/blog/2020/3/15/covid-19-resource-list
8.
Hearing Loss Association of America. How do I communicate with doctors, nurses, and staff at the hospital during COVID-19? Updated March 28, 2020. Accessed April 14, 2020. https://www.hearingloss.org/communication-access-recommendations-hospitals-covid-19/
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