The Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner has published two decisions relating to the care provided by an audiologist at a DHB. In both cases, the audiologist conducted repeat examinations and hearing tests but failed to identify significant hearing loss.
The Deputy Commissioner found that the audiologist failed to provide a reasonable standard of care and failed to keep accurate and complete records, in breach of Rights 4(1) and 4(2) of the Code. Among other things, the audiologist failed to perform cross-checks and failed to arrange adequate follow up. The Deputy Commissioner also noted that the audiologist had a sole charge position at the DHB since 1989 but had not been a full member of the New Zealand Audiological Society for any of this time, and that the audiologist's facilities and equipment were "suboptimal" and in need of upgrading. The DHB was found to be vicariously liable as it "failed to ensure that [the audiologist] was appropriately supervised, and failed to provide peer support or checks on his performance. [The audiologist] was working as a sole charge audiologist, in a department with suboptimal facilities and equipment. In these circumstances, [the DHB] did not take reasonable steps to prevent [the audiologist's] breach of the Code". 12HDC00446 and 11HDC00846