Senate Bill 141
152nd General Assembly (Present)
Becomes effective upon date of signature of the Governor or upon date specified
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 24 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE BOARD OF SPEECH/LANGUAGE PATHOLOGISTS, AUDIOLOGISTS, AND HEARING AID DISPENSERS.
This Act establishes updated, detailed standards for the practice of hearing aid dispensing. Definitions are added to specify that the standards and requirements pertaining hearing aid dispensing apply to prescription hearing aids only and not to over-the-counter hearing aids. Hearing aid dispenser licensure requirements consist of a high school diploma, six months of on-the-job training, and a national exam. Currently, hearing aid dispensers are expressly prohibited from making medical diagnoses or audiologic evaluations, as set forth in 24 Del. C. § 3702(7). Input from stakeholders demonstrated that HADs were practicing outside the permissible scope of practice. Impermissible activities include cerumen management (wax removal), which is considered invasive, and treating tinnitus (ringing in the ears), which can indicate more complex medical issues. These conditions are appropriately treated by a physician, preferably a hearing specialist. Further, HADs frequently use medical diagnosis codes to ensure payment from insurance carriers, which conflicts with the medical diagnosis prohibition in the current law. A new scope of practice definition delineates permissible and prohibited activities and identifies when referral to a physician is required. This Act also clarifies that a speech/language pathologist applicant must present a certificate of clinical competence issued by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Audiologist applicants are not subject to this requirement. The distinction is that ASHA evaluates the speech/language pathologist’s practicum and clinical fellowship, which are requirements for licensure. In contrast, an audiologist applicant is only required to establish receipt of a doctoral degree and successful completion of a national licensure examination. This Act clarifies that audiologists licensed prior to July 10, 2009 do not need to meet the educational requirement of a doctoral degree as long as they have maintained Delaware licensure. This Act further amends provisions relating to examinations to comport with current practice. This Act revises the reciprocity requirements in the interests of clarity. This Act sets forth requirements for licensure of applicants who were educated outside of the United States. This Act removes the definitions of audiology aide and speech pathology aide on the basis that the Board does not license aides. This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.