On August 26, 2022, the Times Colonist published an editorial entitled, Over the counter help for hearing loss. The editorial described a recent ruling by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), following the passing of the federal Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 by the U.S. Congress. The editorial contains several inaccuracies and false assumptions, and the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC (CSHBC) offers the following response:
- The editorial suggests that audiologists dispense hearing aids in British Columbia. That is inaccurate. In BC, only Registered Hearing Instrument Practitioner (RHIPs) are licensed to dispense hearing aids. While RHIPs and Registered Audiologists (RAUDs) may both prescribe hearing aids, only RHIPs may sell and fit hearing aids. There are specific regulations on scopes of practice and restricted activities for RAUDs, RHIPs, and Registered Speech-Language Pathologists (RSLPs) outlined in the Speech and Hearing Health Professionals Regulation.
- In addition, the editorial suggests that the College could “call for a price reduction” for hearing aids. This is also inaccurate, and inconsistent with the College’s duties and responsibilities under BC’s Health Professions Act, as well as its role to remain neutral and impartial and refrain from advocacy and/or lobbying. The College regulates the professions of audiology, hearing instrument dispensing, and speech-language pathology by ensuring professional and clinical practice standards are maintained and the public is provided with safe and competent care. The College has no say in the price of hearing aids or setting the scopes of practice or restricted activities for RAUDs, RHIPs, and RSLPs.
- Finally, the editorial suggests that changes to the composition of the CSHBC Board – prescribed in section 2 of the CSHBC Bylaws – i.e., increasing the number of publicly-appointed members “would likely be necessary … to carry through such a change”. This is also inaccurate, shows a clear misunderstanding of the Board’s mandate and jurisdiction, and impugns the integrity of the Board’s elected, professional members by implying that their actions may be guided by interests other than the public interest. Both elected and appointed members of the CSHBC Board act in strict compliance with the College’s Oath of Office prescribed by the Health Professions General Regulation.
The College responded to the editorial by providing the Times Colonist with the above points; to date, the Times Colonist has not published any retractions or clarifications.