Acute Hearing Loss Referral Access Criteria

Referrers should use this page when referring patients to public adult ENT outpatient services for acute hearing loss.
Emergency referral
If any of the following are present or suspected, refer the patient to the emergency department or seek emergency medical advice if in a remote region.
  •  Acute hearing loss less than 72 hours with no obvious cause (suspected sudden sensorineural hearing loss or SSNHL)
Immediate referral
Orange exclamation mark in triangle: orange alertImmediately contact on-call registrar or service to arrange immediate ENT assessment (seen within 7 days):
  • Sudden hearing loss less than 72 hours with the following associated conditions:
    • trauma
    • foreign body
    • dizziness or vertigo
    • facial numbness or weakness
    • ear pain
    • ear discharge
To contact the relevant service, see HealthPathways: Acute ENT assessment (external site)
Presenting issues
If any of these issues are present, refer to outpatient services through the Central Referral Service (CRS).
  • Hearing loss less than 72 hours
Mandatory information
Referrals missing 'mandatory information' with no explanation provided may not be accepted by site. If 'mandatory information' is not included, the explanation must be provided in the body of the referral (e.g. patient unable to access test due to financial reasons or geographical location).

This information is required to inform accurate and timely triage. If unable to attach reports, please include relevant information/findings in the body of the referral and advise where (provider) investigation/imaging was completed.

  • Relevant history, onset, duration of symptoms including:
    • description of hearing loss i.e. one or both sides, severity, significant change in hearing
  • Current medication list
  • Details of previous treatment and outcome
  • Summary of neurological examination
  • Tuning fork test (Rinne test and/or Weber test) (where available and providing it will not cause significant delay)
  • Nil
Highly desirable
  • Information regarding any hearing aids or hearing devices and communication mode utilised by the patient e.g. Auslan
  • Any previous audiology assessment results 
  • Nil
  • Nil
Indicative triage category

Category 1

Appointment within 30 days

  • Sudden SNHL is a medical emergency that needs urgent assessment and treatment (consider prednisolone)
  • An audiogram will be performed in the hospital

Category 2

Appointment within 90 days

  • No defined category 2 criteria

Category 3

Appointment within 365 days

  •  No defined category 3 criteria
Useful information
  • Nil
Last reviewed: 02-10-2023