Audiology review leads to $2m in compensation
An independent clinical review into the delivery of audiology care at Townsville University Hospital is now complete, with the Queensland Government offering a total of over $2.2 million to the families and individuals affected by substandard care.
Minister for Health Shannon Fentiman announced the health service will offer one-off ex-gratia payments to 97 families and individuals who required additional testing and follow-up care.
The payments will be split into two categories: individuals and families of children who have experienced the most significant impacts will be offered $50,000, while individuals and families of children who have been recalled for additional testing will be offered $5000.
The initial review, commissioned in June, was conducted in response to concerning audit results in the audiological care delivered to two groups of children, including babies who required follow-up after their newborn hearing screen and children whose cochlear implants were programmed at the hospital. Adult patients were also affected following a broadening of the audit’s scope.
The investigation found that clinical care and oversight offered to audiology patients did not meet minimum standards. It also identified inconsistencies in the quality of care.
One staff member was stood down during an investigation, and one no longer works for the health service.
‘‘The investigators raised several concerns relating to an understanding of clinical roles and accountabilities, including line management, professional supervision and operational performance,” said Townsville Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Kieran Keyes.
“I want the community to be reassured audiology services are now in safe hands with the team committed to the ongoing delivery of care for North Queensland children.”
Keyes added that the investigators acknowledged the care delivered by the hospital’s broader audiology team was of an appropriate standard and the team should be recognised for their advocacy and hard work in delivering audiology practice to North Queensland.
“Restoring confidence in audiology care is our top priority and we will implement all recommendations,” said Board Chair Tony Mooney.
“The board will closely monitor the implementation of the report’s recommendations and provide regular updates on the progress.”
The Townsville Hospital and Health Service will continue to work with Children’s Health Queensland and Cochlear Australia to ensure optimal delivery of audiology services.
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