Investigative Audiology is synonymous with Forensic Audiology. This is a very intriguing and relatively new area for the field of audiology. Expert witnesses and subject matter experts have been around for a long time particularly in the medical profession. Audiology really came into being since World War II, which means it is relatively young as an allied health profession. Many of the cases where an investigative audiologist has been involved as an expert witness have been cases where there is a worker’s compensation claim such as in mining and railroad. I have been involved in cases where my role was to determine if a practicing audiologist had caused injury to a patient. In one such case I was able to reconstruct the event leading to the injury of a patient by going on site to the clinic where the alleged injury occurred. Another case involved a law enforcement agency that had raided the wrong house and as a result there were alleged hearing related injuries. In this particular case in addition to reading depositions and affidavits I was also invited to examine the plaintiffs by evaluating their hearing in my clinic. Although there was some hearing loss, it was obvious that the loss had been exaggerated. Another case involved the action taken by a physician while treating a patient that resulted in a hearing loss. I will soon be involved in evaluating a victim of a motor vehicle accident where there is evidence of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). It is likely that in this case our clinic will need to evaluate hearing, as well as balance.
I have been asked how one gets into investigative audiology. I really did nothing actively to alert law firms of my training or expertise. So I fell into this field quite by accident. One firm just did a Google search under forensic audiology in my state and my name popped up at the top of the list. Hopefully if I do my work to the satisfaction of those who have sought me out, the word will get out to others. I have formed a limited liability corporation (LLC) in consultation with a local law firm and a certified public accountant. Recently I opened a website. Blogging seems to attract attention. I may eventually use one of the online services that provide directories of subject matter experts. I would like to expand this practice.
This is a great time to be an audiologist. The forecast for the next 30-40 years is that there will be a need for audiologists as the baby-boomers are hitting retirement age, are living longer than earlier generations, and will need hearing and balance related services.