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Otitis Media (Audiology)

ADULT

If any of the following are present or suspected, please refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or seek emergent medical advice if in a remote region.


Adult

  • Hearing loss
    • Sudden loss or sudden deterioration of hearing (sudden = within 72 hours) (British Academy of Audiology, 2016)
  • Otitis media
    • Any suspicions of the complications of ASOM i.e. Mastoiditis (proptosis of pinna), meningitis etc
  • Vertigo/Vestibular
    • Recent sudden onset with neurological symptoms
  • Facial Nerve Palsy
    • Sudden onset facial weakness

Paediatric

  • Paediatric Hearing loss
    • Sudden loss or deterioration
  • Paediatric Otitis media
    • Any suspicions Mastoiditis (proptosis of pinna), meningitis or other complication of ASOM
    • Trauma
    • New onset facial nerve palsy
  • Other referrals to emergency not covered within these conditions (Paediatric)
    • Foreign body
    • ENT conditions with associated neurological signs e.g. facial nerve palsy, profound vertigo and/or sudden deterioration in sensorineural hearing
    • Acute and/or complicated mastoiditis
    • Auricular haematoma
    • Significant head injury
    • Congenital abnormality of the head/neck
    • Meningitis/encephalitis
  • Refer to Adult ENT Hearing Loss CPC, Health pathways or local guidelines
  • Exclude SSNHL, see Hearing loss CPC
  • If adult wears a hearing aid, consider impact of the condition on the ability to wear the device
  • Management of environmental factors
  • Consider referral to ENT service

Queensland public hospitals do not dispense conventional or standard hearing aids. Aids for children, veterans, pensioners, ADF or NDIS participants with hearing needs are fitted by local audiologists via application to the Australian Government Hearing Services Program (Hearing service program). For non-eligible patients with a symmetrical mild, moderate or severe hearing loss, refer to a local private hearing aid provider.

Queensland Health Audiologists provide diagnostic hearing assessments which may result in a recommendation for hearing aids and/or an ENT opinion, but not the fitting of hearing aids.

Clinical resources

Minimum Referral Criteria

  • Category 1
    (appointment within 30 calendar days)
    • No category 1 criteria
  • Category 2
    (appointment within 90 calendar days)
    • Suspicion of complicated otitis media e.g. cholesteatoma
    • Painful discharging ears despite topical antibiotic (first line) and/or PO antibiotic therapy (second line) for 5 days
    • Middle ear conditions without previous audiology
    • ASOM with ear drum perforation
  • Category 3
    (appointment within 365 calendar days)
    • Chronic middle ear conditions that have previous audiology

1. Reason for request Indicate on the referral

  • To establish a diagnosis
  • For treatment or intervention
  • For advice and management
  • For specialist to take over management
  • Reassurance for GP/second opinion
  • For a specified test/investigation the GP can't order, or the patient can't afford or access
  • Reassurance for the patient/family
  • For other reason (e.g. rapidly accelerating disease progression)
  • Clinical judgement indicates a referral for specialist review is necessary

2. Essential referral information Referral will be returned without this

  • Description of
    • Onset, duration, frequency, severity
    • Previous ENT history
    • Social modifiers ie. effect on work

3. Additional referral information Useful for processing the referral

  • Family history of hearing loss in patient’s parents or siblings
  • Other medical conditions or syndromes known to be related to hearing loss including Down syndrome
  • Results of Health Assessment for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander People

4. Request

Patient's Demographic Details

  • Full name (including aliases)
  • Date of birth
  • Residential and postal address
  • Telephone contact number/s – home, mobile and alternative
  • Medicare number (where eligible)
  • Name of the parent or caregiver (if appropriate)
  • Preferred language and interpreter requirements
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

Referring Practitioner Details

  • Full name
  • Full address
  • Contact details – telephone, fax, email
  • Provider number
  • Date of referral
  • Signature

Relevant clinical information about the condition

  • Presenting symptoms (evolution and duration)
  • Physical findings
  • Details of previous treatment (including systemic and topical medications prescribed) including the course and outcome of the treatment
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Details of any associated medical conditions which may affect the condition or its treatment (e.g. diabetes), noting these must be stable and controlled prior to referral
  • Current medications and dosages
  • Drug allergies
  • Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs use

Reason for request

  • To establish a diagnosis
  • For treatment or intervention
  • For advice and management
  • For specialist to take over management
  • Reassurance for GP/second opinion
  • For a specified test/investigation the GP can't order, or the patient can't afford or access
  • Reassurance for the patient/family
  • For other reason (e.g. rapidly accelerating disease progression)
  • Clinical judgement indicates a referral for specialist review is necessary

Clinical modifiers

  • Impact on employment
  • Impact on education
  • Impact on home
  • Impact on activities of daily living
  • Impact on ability to care for others
  • Impact on personal frailty or safety
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

Other relevant information

  • Willingness to have surgery (where surgery is a likely intervention)
  • Choice to be treated as a public or private patient
  • Compensable status (e.g. DVA, Work Cover, Motor Vehicle Insurance, etc.)
  • Please note that where appropriate and where available, the referral may be streamed to an associated public allied health and/or nursing service.  Access to some specific services may include initial assessment and management by associated public allied health and/or nursing, which may either facilitate or negate the need to see the public medical specialist.

  • A change in patient circumstance (such as condition deteriorating, or becoming pregnant) may affect the urgency categorisation and should be communicated as soon as possible.

  • Please indicate in the referral if the patient is unable to access mandatory tests or investigations as they incur a cost or are unavailable locally.