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A Hospital's Role in Newborn Hearing Screening

Newborn hearing screeners serve on the frontline in the world of newborn hearing. They make a significant impact on a newborn's life by providing proper guidance and education to their parents so they can make informed decisions about their newborn's hearing. Without adequate knowledge, parents can unintentionally choose a path where their newborn may miss out on early detection of hearing loss, which may cause developmental delays in speech and language, communication, reduced academic achievement and possibly, social implications. With over 300 babies being diagnosed with permanent hearing loss in Illinois each year, it is crucial that screening staff explain the importance of a hearing screening to all parents and how it can help detect a hearing loss in a baby so parents can take advantage of all the resources available to them. In addition, it will also help ensure timely developmental growth for their child compared to their hearing peers. Screeners have the ability to empower parents in making choices if they are fully equipped with the essentials of the newborn hearing screening process including conducting a successful screen; interpreting the screening results for parents; explaining next steps when their newborn refers on the initial hearing screening; and the importance of timely follow-up upon hospital discharge. To increase your understanding and maintain competency in all these areas, we have provided you with the following materials that include trainings that could be completed periodically in your own time to help you stay on top of it!

  1. Trainings
  2. Educational Materials
  3. Reporting Resources
  4. Quality Assurance
  5. Quality Improvement
  6. Commonly Used Acronyms


  • Newborn Hearing Screening Training Curriculum (NHSTC) 
    Newborn Hearing screeners play an important role in the system and contribute significantly to the long-term quality of the screening program. Therefore, it is vital for all screeners to be equipped with appropriate tools and knowledge so they are able to successfully conduct hearing screening and address any questions or concerns that parents might have about the screening process, results, and follow-up. The Newborn Hearing Screening Training Curriculum (NHSTC) is available at NO cost through the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM) website. This training will help provide an understanding of the comprehensive nature of a quality newborn hearing screening program and the necessary foundation to the screeners. It will also serve as a great refresher to those who have previously completed this training.
    Screeners can receive a certificate of completion by following the link above and scrolling down to the section, "NHSTC- Certificate Version". It is strongly recommended that screeners complete this training on an annual basis to improve the standard of care to the children and families for screening and follow-up through efficient, effective, and comprehensive screening practices.
  • Skills Checklist 
    Every screener should be assessed for "hands-on" competencies using the NHSTC Competency Checklist found in the "Resources" section of the training curriculum.

Educational Materials

  • Brochures - are available on the Brochures page of our website along with an order form.
  • Crib Cards - also available on the Brochures page of our website along with an order form.
  • Scripted Messages -
    Use the scripted messages provided by the National Center of Hearing Assessment & Management (NCHAM) to effectively communicate the screening information and the results.
  • Loss & Found Video The Hands & Voices video features parents describing their personal experiences and guiding others on what to do when an infant doesn't pass the newborn hearing screening. It is available for viewing in English, Spanish and by closed captioning. All hospitals are encouraged to play this educational video for the new parents to enhance their knowledge about the newborn hearing screening.

Reporting Resources

Audiology reporting forms and Physician follow-up forms are available on the Reporting Resources page of our website.

Quality Assurance

  • Strive for appropriate and timely referrals to successfully meet national EHDI goals of all infants screened no later than 1 month of age; diagnosed no later than 3 months of age and enrolled in early intervention no later than 6 months of age.
  • Make every effort to meet the national benchmark for number of babies missing or referring on their hearing screens. National guidelines suggest referral rates to be less than 4% and missed rates to be less than 1%.
  • Monitor screener competency in administration of screening
  • Monitor screener competency in communicating results to parents
  • Ensure timely documentation of results so children can receive proper follow-up testing

Quality Improvement

Birthing Facilities Report Cards 
Through quality improvement activities, it has been repeatedly proven that what occurs prior to a newborn's hospital discharge predicts the success of follow-up for an infant. Therefore, the standardized "flow chart" Hi-Track report is being provided to each birth hospital so that you can monitor your hospital's program. The flow chart allows hospital screening program coordinators to see the 'flow' of babies through a two stage inpatient and outpatient screening protocol. Stage one includes up to two inpatient hearing screenings prior to discharge. If the baby is not screened, or refers for more screening, then the infant moves to stage two.
There are three main sections to the flow chart: Inpatient, Outpatient & Hearing Status (Evaluation):

  • The total number of infants at the top of the chart indicates how many infants are included during this time period by this hospital.
  • The outpatient section accounts for all infants who referred, whose inpatient results were Inconclusive or who were not screened as an inpatient.
  • Atypical - diagnostics represents infants who have an evaluation in process or a confirmed loss, including risk monitoring, although they passed either inpatient or outpatient screening, or were not screened inpatient or outpatient.
  • In the Hearing Status section, the total recommended for evaluation number includes infants who referred outpatient, were marked as no outpatient; diagnostics and babies who were atypically referred for diagnostics.

This letter (pdf) provides an introduction to the content and information found in the Birthing Hospital Report Card.  It includes a sample Report Card with detailed explanation of the various information the Report Card contains.

For recent report cards, hospital staff may contact Dr. Ginger Mullin at the Illinois Department of Public Health 217-785-1053. 

Commonly Used Acronyms

AABR Automated Auditory Brainstem Response

AuD Doctor of Audiology

ABR Auditory Brainstem Response

BF Birthing Facility

CDC Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

DPOAE Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions

DSCC Division of Specialized Care for Children

EHDI Early Hearing Detection & Intervention

ENT Ear Nose and Throat

HIPAA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

HL Hearing Loss

IDPH Illinois Department of Public Health

JCIH Joint Committee on Infant Hearing

NBHS Newborn Hearing Screening

NCHAM National Center for Hearing Assessment & Management

NHSTC Newborn Hearing Screening Training Curriculum

NICU Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

OAE Otoacoustic Emissions

SCBU Special Care Baby Unit

TEOAE Transient Evoked Otoacoustic Emissions

UIC University of Illinois at Chicago

UNHS Universal Newborn Hearing Screening