American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

ASHA Urges AMA To Retract Audiology Scope Of Practice Document

One Profession Has No Right To Restrict The Scope Of Practice Of Another, Legally Recognized Profession, ASHA contends

(Rockville, MD - January 6, 2010)  

Describing the American Medical Association's AMA Scope of Practice Data Series: Audiologists as "rife with opinion, misstatements, innuendo, and factual errors," the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is calling upon the group to retract it. 

2009 ASHA President Sue T. Hale, MCD, urged the retraction last month in a letter [PDF] that she sent to Michael D. Maves, MD, MBA, the AMA's Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer. Hale wrote Maves to convey ASHA's overall comments about the AMA's scope of practice document. 

"ASHA takes issue with the presumption of the AMA that it should develop such a document and especially for the stated purpose to 'serve as a resource for state medical associations, national medical specialty societies, and policymakers,'" Hale wrote. "One profession does not have the right to restrict the scope of practice of another legally recognized profession." 

ASHA also took issue with several other aspects of the scope of practice document, including: 

  • that the AMA developed its document without "conferring or collaborating with ASHA, the professional home for the discipline [audiology] since 1925;" according to Hale, "such oversight begs the question as to the actual motives behind such a self-serving document and will most assuredly cause reasonable policymakers to doubt its credibility."
  • parts of the AMA document that suggest that advocacy to expand audiology's scope of practice is politically motivated; "the profession of audiology has been a standards based profession for over 50 years," Hale wrote, adding that "scopes of practice legitimately grow as a profession's research and knowledge base increases."
  • Hale pointed out that "asserting that effective patient care is best accomplished by means of physician oversight is not a cost-effective argument," noting that "approximately 95% of adults with complaints of hearing loss have sensorineural hearing loss for which medical or surgical treatment is not typically beneficial"; she added that the AMA "assumes a level of audiologic knowledge that does not exist for most physicians and presumes a model of health care that does not reflect society's acceptance of autonomous allied health practitioners." 

2010 ASHA President Tommie L. Robinson Jr. has since reinforced ASHA's position, saying that the profession of audiology will continue to establish its own scope of practice and that retraction of the AMA Scope of Practice Data Series: Audiologists is in the best interest of all concerned.

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 135,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders. 

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