Teenager almost deaf after waiting too long for ear drum surgery

In the latest bungle involving an Australian hospital, a teenage boy in Tasmania has reportedly waited so long for surgery to repair his perforated ear drum that he is almost deaf.

Though 15 year-old Jeremy Brewer had been listed as a category one case by the hospital, three and a half years down the line he is apparently still waiting for surgery.

The Royal Hobart Hospital has admitted that an administrative mistake has been made but meanwhile the teenage boy's hearing and speech have significantly deteriorated and according to his mother he is failing at school.

His mother Vanessa Brewer says he has also been subjected to bullying because of his hearing and speech problems and has not had access to speech pathology.

The eardrum is an important barrier between the environment and the middle ear and a perforated eardrum is an eardrum with a hole in it, and the level of the hearing loss depends on the size and location of the hole.

Holes in the eardrum are usually caused by trauma or infection and symptoms can include a loss of hearing, ringing in the ear, called tinnitus and bloody ear drainage and with an infection, intense pain.

To avoid a ruptured eardrum ear, infections should be treated immediately with antibiotics and items such as Q-tips should not be put in the ear.

It is often impossible to prevent trauma to the ear and when a hole in the eardrum is diagnosed, it is important to keep contaminated or soapy water out of the ear canal, avoid blowing the nose and avoid changes in elevation.

While most ruptures will heal on their own, others may need surgery, which if successful, restores the protective barrier effect of the eardrum and the hearing recovers to a completely normal state.

The hospital was notified by the boy's GP regarding his deteriorating condition to no apparent avail.

The Hospital agrees it is not acceptable for a category one patient to wait so long for treatment and will reassess the boy's condition and schedule surgery for him.

The State Government has apologised for the time he has been waiting for surgery.

According to the Education Department says high school students do have access to speech pathologists but it is trying to address a staffing shortages.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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