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Information for GPs

Hearing Loss

What GPs should know about Audiology Services
Hearing loss is common for adults, particularly from the age of 55 years for males and from about 60 years for women. In young children, Otitis Media is the most common cause of temporary hearing loss and in increasing numbers, noise exposure from instruments like iPods will cause permanent hearing loss and/or tinnitus in young people. A General Practitioner is going to encounter the need for referral to an audiologist often.

 

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Adults

assessment and referral
Adults should always be assessed if they report difficulty hearing or symptoms of aural fullness, tinnitus or vertigo, especially if these are of sudden onset. It is particularly crucial to have an investigation for a sudden loss of hearing, as there is known to be a 48-hour window when an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist may be able to medicate some cases, to enable recovery of thresholds. An audiologist will perform diagnostic tests to assist an ENT Specialist in forming their diagnosis and treatment.

 

In Tasmania, adults can be referred to the Audiology clinic at the Royal Hobart Hospital for investigation, but a waiting list exists, so a referral to a private practitioner, such as Eastern Audiology Services, is a quicker alternative.

Health Funding

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ADULTS

If an adult’s case is not urgent, then assessment can be done by a private practitioner and when devices are indicated, then a patient can be funded by two streams. If your patient holds an age pension or is DVA eligible, they should be directed to the Office of Hearing Services programme. This is accessed through an application form that your practice should have or the website: www.hearingservices.gov.au.   Audiological services are provided with minimal cost to Pensioners and Veterans who are eligible for The Office of Hearing Services programme.

 

Any person of working age may be able to access audiology services, but this will be self-funded, so patients need to check with their health funds what level of extras cover may apply to them. In some instances, patients may be able to use the Allied Health Care Plan to access Audiology for individual visits, as there is no Medicare rebate available unless the Audiologist is employed by a Doctor or ENT Specialist and can bill under that professional’s Medicare number.

 

From 2017, hearing impaired persons under 65 years of age may be able to access assistance for their disability through the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme). This will enable people who previously have not been able to seek assistance with hearing or communication difficulties to quality funded services. Conditions will apply.

 

 

CHILDREN
Children in Tasmania can also be seen for hearing assessment, at the R.H.H. clinic or under certain circumstances, when an identified hearing loss exists, through Australian Hearing. For this latter group, recent changes allow people under 26 years to remain clients of Australian Hearing. Babies born with a hearing loss and who are fitted with a cochlear implant will fall into this group. Other services required for children, such as hearing tests, earplugs for swimming or noise protection or central auditory processing assessments can be provided by Eastern Audiology Services.

Health Articles and relevant links

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