Investigation into Audiology Services Townsville University Hospital

In December 2022 concerns were raised about potential issues with babies/children seen in the Townsville Hospital and Health Service (THHS) diagnostic service. These concerns related to ‘unexpected outcomes’ for some babies/children who had been seen in the clinic following referral from their newborn hearing screen and had been identified as having either normal hearing or a non-permanent hearing issue at this time. These children were subsequently found to have a permanent hearing loss at a later testing time point, constituting a ‘unexpected outcome’.

Further investigation and follow up with Children’s Health Qld Healthy Hearing (CHQ HH) confirmed a problem which suggested compromised audiological testing and management of some in this cohort. Five children were initially identified with adverse findings. Other concerns were also raised in relation to the audiology department’s response to the findings of an external clinical review performed in 2020 by the CHQ HH of this service, which suggested non-compliance with some testing and governance protocols. A broader external review by CHQ was recommended and approved by the THHS Executive.

Around this time, THHS became aware of a report of adverse outcomes at the Women’s and Children’s Health Network in South Australia, related to the audiological care for children in their cochlear implant (CI) program. In view of this, the external audit was extended and included two groups. These groups were- babies who required follow-up after their newborn hearing screen and children who received CI programming (mapping) services.

A team of Health Service Investigators (HSI) with clinical audiology, cochlear implant, and clinical governance expertise, as well as a consumer representative were appointed by the Health Service Chief Executive to investigate and report on matters relating to Audiology and Cochlear Implant Mapping Services at THHS beyond those reviewed by Children’s Health Queensland and to consider and report on management, administration and the model of care specifically outlined in the  Scope of the investigation (see section 4 of this report). This report addresses the matters requested in the Terms of Reference.

Townsville University Hospital Part 9 Health Service Investigation Audiology Services (PDF 1865 kB)

Last updated: 8 November 2023