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America Needs to ‘Listen Up!’
Why I Decided to Write a Book on Hearing
I’ve had a book stewing around in my head for years. In my work both as a clinician and consultant, I’ve been able to see the way we treat hearing loss in this country from all angles. At this point, I basically have a mental Rolodex of stories, facts, perspectives, and anything else you can think of relating to hearing loss. Over the past year or so, I’ve been shaping that knowledge into a book, “Listen Up! A Physician’s Guide to Effectively Treating Your Hearing Loss,” which is just about to be published. The book is aimed at patients, the people most in need of a fresh analysis of hearing loss and its treatment.
the numbers of patients I’d be able to help as a surgeon. If I have a 20-year career and do roughly 500 surgeries per year, that’s 10,000 people treated. That’s not a number to scoff at. As a clinician, being able to say I helped 10,000 people would be incredibly satisfying. However, that number doesn’t tell the whole story. For one, only about 2%–3% of patients who suffer from hearing loss require surgical intervention. These patients are already undergoing a radically different care experience than the bulk of the population. The vast majority of hearing loss sufferers will never step foot in an office like mine. Most of them buy their hearing aids from the same place they buy meat, trash bags, and toilet paper. I wasn’t reaching these people at all. Second, many of the patients I was treating weren’t getting the most out of their surgeries. There was no single incident that led me to this conclusion — more like death by a million paper cuts. Time and again, I’d perform a successful surgery on a patient. From my perspective, the mission had been accomplished. During their recovery, I’d say, “Your surgery went very well. You need to get a pair of well-fitted hearing aids, and you’ll be all set.” When I saw those patients at their follow-up appointments after their surgery, way too many of them didn’t have hearing aids. It wasn’t because
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they lacked the diligence or willpower to find a solution for their hearing loss. I mean, they had gone so far as to have me perform an operation on their ear. Clearly, they wanted to get better. Many had tried multiple sets of hearing aids and did not pursue treatment. Fundamentally, my patients were not able to obtain satisfactory rehabilitation with hearing aids. The disparate system of care was holding them back. From that experience, I created my practice with the aim of reinventing the way we treat hearing loss. The book, in a sense, is a culmination of what I’ve been doing in my practice. I want to educate people about why the system for treating hearing loss has let them down, how we can build a better way, and how to get the most from
Honestly, I never envisioned myself as an author. When I became an ear surgeon, my primary goal
was to focus on operative
procedures. And at the outset of my career, that’s exactly what I did.
I never questioned the way the system worked, but rather tried to excel within it. The same way my dad, a physician, felt great about helping his patients, I felt great about helping mine. People came to me with a serious medical problem, and I helped resolve it. What more could a doctor ask for?
their treatment. I hope that you will share this newsletter with any patients who may benefit from this knowledge.
Eventually, I developed an inkling that I wasn’t doing enough. I thought about
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