To determine referral rates resulting from application of American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery audiometric referral criteria for occupational hearing conservation programs (HCPs) in a large industrial population and to estimate the efficacy of audiometric retesting in identifying false-positive referral flags.
Retrospective, comparing referral rates between control and noncontrol HCPs from public domain data in the American National Standards Institute Draft American National Standard: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Hearing Conservation Programs.
Occupational HCPs from the United States and Canada.
A total of 45 055 baseline and 27 047 second chronologic audiograms were analyzed. A subset of 3958 employees who had baseline and seven subsequent tests were examined to confirm results.
Main Outcome Measures:
Percent of employees meeting referral criteria was calculated for unconfirmed (ie, single test) and confirmed (two consecutive tests) audiometric findings. No a priori hypotheses were formulated for referral rates for control or noncontrol HCPs.
Noncontrol HCP referral rates were typically two to three times that of control HCPs. Control and non-control HCPs had about half as many audiometric referral flags when retests were used to confirm initial results.
Mature industrial populations are likely to yield higher baseline referral rates than younger populations. Retesting may identify up to 50% of audiometric referral flags as false-positive and significantly reduce costly overreferrals. Annual referral rates of 1% to 2% seem to be achievable in well-run HCPs in which retesting is performed to identify false-positive audiometric outcomes.(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995;121:407-411)
Simpson TH, Stewart M, Balkley BW. Audiometric Referral Criteria for Industrial Hearing Conservation Programs. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995;121(4):407–411. doi:10.1001/archotol.1995.01890040031005
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