Hearing management

Updated 07 December 2017

Illegal hearing aids 'dangerous'

The HPCSA has warned the public against buying hearing aids from retail pharmacies as they could damge one's hearing.

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The Speech, Language and Hearing Professional Board of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) has warned the public against purchasing hearing aids or amplifiers directly from retail pharmacies and other non-registered persons – not only are these pharmacies acting in contravention of the law, but these amplifiers could cause irreversible hearing loss to normal hearing members of the public.

Complaints have been received by the Board concerning the dispensing and selling of “hearing aids” to the general public by unregistered people working at certain national pharmacies and retailers.

In breach of the law

In their advertising, “hearing aids” are dispensed by trained nurses.  These nurses, who do not fall under the ambit of the HPCSA, are placing the public at risk by illegally administering treatment for clinically unproven hearing problems by supplying unprescribed amplifiers and are as such in breach of the law and also practicing outside their scope of practice.

“The illegal dispensing of amplifiers is misleading to the public who assume that the person is attending to their hearing condition, which is not the case, as no qualified, professional consultation or hearing test can be provided by a nurse, says Prof Shajila Singh, Chairperson of the Professional Board for Speech, Language and Hearing professions.  “Unprescribed amplification can damage the hearing of normal hearing individuals and such hearing loss could be irreversible.”

“We believe this form of advertising is irresponsible and the matter has been escalated to our legal services department for further engagement with the pharmaceutical retailers and South African Nursing Council (SANC).”

The public should be aware of the impact of noise and increased intensity levels on hearing and are advised to only consult registered audiologists for professional hearing tests, should they suspect any hearing difficulty.

 

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Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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