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New infant screening device takes only seconds to detect hearing loss

14-02-2017

TSCPH_Eva Hoebee, Kate, Matthew and Bonnie Cox 090217_lowresIn a Sunshine Coast-first, a new device that enables infant hearing screening to be performed in as little as 12 seconds has been introduced at The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital at Buderim.

The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital’s Healthy Hearing Program Coordinator, Sharon Dean, said the introduction of the new technology has significantly reduced average screening times.

“Traditional screening devices can take up to 15 minutes to complete a baby’s hearing screen,” Ms Dean said.

“The new equipment’s screening time is between 12 and 15 seconds. As midwives this gives us back precious time to do what we do best - provide care and support to families during what can be an exciting but also challenging and emotional time as well,” she said.

“The efficiency of the new device means that the screening is far less intrusive for the baby as it is not required to be connected to screening equipment for long periods.” 

The new screening units are about the same size as a standard mobile phone and have been in operation at the hospital since late 2016. The device, called MADSEN AccuScreen, allows for better accuracy and control for the operator and the accessories are gentle on infant skin—they are also easier to apply and remove.  

The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital’s Healthy Hearing Program has been in place for over 12 years through a successful, collaborative funding partnership with Queensland Health, and aims to identify babies born with hearing loss and refer them on for further audiology assessment.

According to the Australian Government’s National Framework for Neonatal Hearing Screening, approximately 1 or 2 babies out of every 1000 born will experience significant hearing loss – with around 62,000 babies born in Queensland each year, around 65 babies born in Queensland each year will experience significant hearing loss.

New mum Kate Cox from Woombye, said she was thrilled for her newborn daughter Bonnie to be one of the first babies to benefit from the new hearing screen.

“When I was a baby my hearing screen involved someone ringing a bell behind my ear,” Mrs Cox said.

“As a parent it’s very reassuring to know that advanced technology like this now exists and can provide such swift and accurate information about our baby’s hearing,” she said.

Wallis Westbrook, General Manager of The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital at Buderim, said he was very proud to offer this new technology.

“In 2004 we were one of the first private hospitals in Queensland to introduce a Healthy Hearing Program and we are strongly committed to offering the highest quality care to our patients, especially our littlest ones,” he said.

The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital at Buderim launched its maternity service in 1987 and will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of its maternity service in 2017.

The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital at Buderim has been serving the community since 1980 and is part of UnitingCare Health - one of the largest not-for-profit private hospital groups in Queensland which operates more than 1000 licensed beds across four hospitals.

Photo: Midwife Eva Hoebee (left) is pictured with Kate and Matthew Cox and baby Bonnie.