Director of Proceedings v Southern District Health Board  NZHRRT 5, (11 February 2020)
The Director of Proceedings filed proceedings by consent against Southern District Health Board (“SDHB”) in the Human Rights Review Tribunal (“the Tribunal”) regarding audiology services that the DHB provided to Miss D.
Miss D was referred to the Audiology Department at Dunedin Hospital in July 2006 at two months of age. Despite being assessed five or six times between 2006 and 2010, and independent concerns being raised about her hearing, Miss D’s severe hearing loss was not diagnosed until she was five years of age. Throughout the audiology assessments, the status of Miss D’s hearing had not been established through appropriate audiological testing and cross-checking, which had resulted in a significant delay in diagnosing her profound deafness. Miss D has been able to hear fully only since she was six, with the assistance of hearing aids and a cochlear implant. Miss D has required a lot of support and assistance with her academic progress and is still several years behind her peers, both academically and socially.
SDHB acknowledged that its audiology services, facilities, and equipment at the time in question were suboptimal. Further, that the DHB failed to ensure that the sole-charge audiologist was adequately credentialled, supervised appropriately, provided with peer support, and his performance monitored. SDHB also acknowledged that a systemic failing contributed to Miss D not receiving care of an appropriate standard with regard to her hearing status.
SDHB accepted that its failures in care amounted to a breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (“the Code”), and the matter proceeded by way of an agreed summary of facts. The Tribunal was satisfied that SDHB failed to provide services to Miss D with reasonable care and skill, and issued a declaration that it breached Right 4(1) of the Code.
The Tribunal’s full decision can be found at http://www.nzlii.org/nz/cases/NZHRRT/2020/5.html