Audiology in Brief Nearly 2,500 firefighters in 17 states are suing Federal Signal Corp., a national siren manufacturer, alleging that exposure to noise from the device caused noise-induced hearing loss. Their claims are refuted by a study published in the Ear and Hearing Journal in June 2005 that concluded that “firefighters are ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   August 01, 2007
Audiology in Brief
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Hearing Disorders / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   August 01, 2007
Audiology in Brief
The ASHA Leader, August 2007, Vol. 12, 5. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB.12102007.5
The ASHA Leader, August 2007, Vol. 12, 5. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB.12102007.5
Researcher Doubles as Paid Witness in Siren Suit
Nearly 2,500 firefighters in 17 states are suing Federal Signal Corp., a national siren manufacturer, alleging that exposure to noise from the device caused noise-induced hearing loss.
Their claims are refuted by a study published in the Ear and Hearing Journal in June 2005 that concluded that “firefighters are not at risk for occupational noise-induced hearing loss, even though they work nonstandard shifts and are occasionally exposed to high levels of noise,” according to study author William W. Clark, a hearing scientist and director of the Audiology and Communication Sciences program at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The study didn’t mention, however, that according to a story in The Wall Street Journal, Clark was a paid expert for the company, assisting in the litigation at the same time the research study was underway. In addition, Federal Signal Corp. gathered the data that were the basis of the study. The case offers insight into academic researchers who conduct outside work for litigants as expert witnesses and consultantsСa common practice that can produce conflicts of interest, especially when the expert is simultaneously filling the roles of researcher and paid litigation consultant.
The study became a prominent part of Federal Signal’s planned legal defense. Clark’s relationship with Federal Signal first came to light as part of a lawsuit filed by Chicago firefighters against the company, according to Integrity in Science, a project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. As a result of a court order, Clark has been barred from testifying as an expert witness in 33 pending cases and his study cannot be submitted as evidence. The court also ordered Federal Signal to pay the firefighters $50,000 for attempting to cover up the company’s involvement in the study.
Washington University School of Medicine released a letter saying that Clark hadn’t violated any university policies. The Ear and Hearing Journal will publish a clarification.
Hybrid Cochlear Implant System in Clinical Trials
Cochlear Americas is conducting a multi-center clinical investigation of the Nucleus Hybrid Cochlear Implant System. The study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of combining electric and acoustic hearing in individuals with some low-frequency residual hearing and severe-to-profound high frequency sensorineural hearing loss. To date, 90 patients at 17 trial sites in the United States have received the device.
This system consists of a 10 mm electrode array, which is designed to preserve residual low-frequency hearing, allowing the patient to combine the use of a hearing aid and cochlear implant in the same ear. More recently, a combined electric-acoustic sound processor has been made available and is currently being validated. For more information, contact Aaron Parkinson at aparkinson@cochlear.com.
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August 2007
Volume 12, Issue 10