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Paediatric audiology care (11HDC00846)
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(11HDC00846, 26 June
Audiologist ~ District health board ~ Audiology ~ Hearing
loss ~ Inadequate testing and diagnostic services ~ Documentation ~
Vicarious liability ~ Rights 4(1), 4(2)
A two-year-old boy was first seen by an audiologist at a public
hospital in May 2000. The audiologist advised the boy's parents
that he had normal hearing.
The audiologist saw the boy a further four times between 2003
and 2010. Each time the audiologist diagnosed the boy with hearing
within the normal range but at the lower end of the scale.
In April 2011, when under the care of another audiologist, the
boy was diagnosed with moderate to profound hearing loss.
In July 2011, the District Health Board arranged for an external
review into its audiology services. The review identified issues
with the audiology facilities and equipment, and with the
credentials of its staff.
It was held that the audiologist failed to provide the boy with
testing and diagnostic services of an appropriate standard and,
accordingly, breached Right 4(1). The audiologist's documentation
did not meet expected standards and, accordingly, he breached Right
The District Health Board did not take reasonable steps to
prevent the boy's rights being breached by failing to ensure that
the audiologist was properly supervised, failing to provide peer
support or checks on the audiologist's performance, and providing
suboptimal facilities and equipment. Accordingly, the District
Health Board was held vicariously liable for the audiologist's
breach of Right 4(1).
The audiologist and the District Health Board were referred to
the Director of Proceedings. The Director decided to issue
HRRT proceedings against the both audiologist and the District
Health Board. Proceedings are pending.