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Fraud In Hearing Testing

There is little motivation to falsify hearing testing.  However, one does occasionally encouter situations where it is difficult to distinguish bad testing from fraud. 

The following two audiograms were obtained from a man with Meniere's disease. One was done by a professional audiologist in a physician office. The other was done during occupational hearing testing over the same time frame.

In occupational settings, it is generally to the advantage of the company that arranged for the testing to find little hearing loss. On the other hand, in professional audiology practices, there is potential motivation to find considerable hearing loss, as this may motivate the patient to purchase a hearing aid.

This is exactly the pattern shown below.  One of the two must be wrong.  From our review of the entire record, the occupational hearing tests, performed by an occupational group called Examinetics, are repeatly wrong and grossly underestimate hearing loss.  There are many examples from this patient file of similar mismatches between the audiologist testing and the examinetics reports.  In other words, there appearst to be a systemic bias in the "examinetics" audiology testing to find better hearing than is actually the case.

 

Avon audiogram Audiologist audiogram
Audiogram done by occupational hearing testing, Examinetics Audiogram done over same time period by a professional audiologist.

It is puzzling how this could happen due to the usual technical problems with industrial audiometers. The main difficulty with industrial audiometers is that it is difficult to find a sufficiently quiet room (i.e. testing is not usually done in a booth). This means that environmental noise interferes with perception of soft sounds, and hearing losses are overestimated. The pattern above was the opposite - hearing losses were underestimated.

Copyright August 3, 2016 , Timothy C. Hain, M.D. All rights reserved. Last saved on August 3, 2016