This past Friday night I was relaxing at home, surfing the ‘Net, and reading blogs. Super Hearing Boy (SHB) was washing dishes as payment for his cell phone subscription. Suddenly, he runs into my room with a look of terror on his face and shouts:


Me: What?

SHB: Look! (points)

Blood was pouring from his right hand.

Me: What happened???!!!!!

SHB: I was washing a glass and it broke!

This was no superficial cut; he needed medical attention at once. I grab a washcloth to wrap his hand in, grab my purse, and in 60 seconds we were out the door. Luckily, the nearest hospital was only a few miles away. I drive like a mad woman and in ten minutes we were in the Emergency Room.

We make a beeline for the nurse’s station.

Me: My son cut his hand! Where do we go?

Nurse: Mmmhdkfjkdj kdjfkdjfk jdkfjdkf kkdfjkd

Me: (Realizing I don’t have my hearing aids in) I’m hard of hearing! Where do we go?

Nurse: (Points)

We go to the room on the right and go to the nurse’s station there. I fumble in my purse and find the box where I keep my hearing aids. Quickly, I place them in my ears and the formerly silent hospital comes to life, blasting my ears with the sound of babies crying, people talking, and the tv blaring.

The triage nurse briefly assesses SHB’s injury and tells us to sit down. A few minutes later, SHB is called and the nurse wraps gauze around his hand and throws away the blood-soaked washcloth. On four separate occasions, SHB is called and I miss his name each time! Because SHB hears so well, I depend on his ears and didn’t ask the hospital staff to walk out to the patient waiting area to get my attention. Three and a half hours later, we leave with SHB’s wound closed with six sutures (stitches).

The next day, after I’ve calmed down, I think about the previous night. I understand hospitals have procedures to follow with each patient, but surely there’s a better way than calling patients’ names in a cacophonous environment. A numbered system that visually alerts patients would be much better. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in my city has an efficient visual and auditory method of alerting customers that’s very hoh/deaf friendly. Upon walking into the DMV, customers take a number and sit down. After a short wait, the customer’s number is spoken and flashed on the multiple screens surrounding the waiting area. Arrows point the way to the appropriate Customer Service Representative.

Does anyone know of an ER with deaf/hoh friendly ways of alerting patients?



  1. Sarah Said:

    Hope SHB is feeling better!
    I think your idea is a good one – there are so many difficult to pronounce names I think the hospital staff would want your system.

  2. Hoh Said:

    Thanks, Sarah!

    SHB was SO BRAVE – he didn’t cry or whimper. I was shocked!

    There’s got to be a hospital somewhere that has a system like this already – hope someone tells me where!


  3. Abbie Said:

    Ahh, I remember those beelines drives my father use to do when I got cut and needed stitches.. I’m glad he is ok though!

    However, I agree with you 100% that I think they should have a more efficient way of handling patients instead of just blurting out their last name. I hate focusing so hard my eyes go blurry in that type of situation. Then when my eyes cannot take any more, I do a simple tally on everyone that was present in the room so I know I am not skipped. It isn’t just hospitals, but it includes labs, doctors offices. My local german butcher shop runs more efficiently then those offices do.

    You woulda thunk that since they make us sign umpteen forms about the Privacy Act they would respect our privacy by not revealing our entire government name in a crowded office!! Is that a oxymoron or is it me?

  4. Hoh Said:


    It does seem like a violation of HIPAA when normal hearing people hear names and can see visible injuries. I’m going to include that in my letter, thanks!


  5. Lucy Said:

    I remember once being in the doctor’s waiting room waiting to have my ears syringed (I’m not normally hoh), and they called me three times before I got the message!
    SHB is a fine fellow!

  6. Jimm Said:

    Yeah, that’s a long wait. One hospital I went in for test, I told them they will have to find me when my turn comes up. They assigned me to a bright kelly green chair and made a note on my folder. It was the only chair of that color.

    I look forward to more adventures of SHB and his sidekick Mom! hehe!

  7. charcoalsilhouette Said:

    SHB :D How old is he?? Lol. Anyway, I have not yet been to the ER (knocks on wood) or the DMV. None of the hospitals i go to have any system except name-yelling, and I have a very difficult to pronounce last name, which often leads to confusion. Have you ever been to a restaurant that is very popular? And the wait is forever? I think there should be a vibrator system, just like restaurants, that are issued and rung when a patient is called. Of course, names can still be called, but if you’re holding a vibrator, what better signal? Serves both blind AND deaf/hoh!

  8. sarah Said:

    not sure about the er but my regular doctors office has those pagers found at resturants. Instead of calling my name or kids name the pager buzzes and vibrates.
    I love this new addition to my doctors office. Since it was bad enough being nervous taking kids to the doctors this was one less thing I had to worry about!

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