How to access – referral to outpatient clinic
You will need to be referred for surgery by a general practitioner or medical specialists. Referrals need to be faxed through to Outpatient Clinics. Referrals undergo a triage process: triage processes are used in hospitals to ensure that every patient receives the right care at the right time, based on the urgency of your condition.
To ensure appropriate and timely triage, all clinical details including relevant test results should be included with your referral.
You will be mailed details for your outpatient appointment.
At your Outpatient Clinics appointment you may be:
- referred to our elective surgery wait list and sign a consent form for your operation
- referred to allied health — for example, physiotherapy
- referred for further medical conservative treatment
- referred for additional investigations — for example, ultrasound, urodynamics, or x-ray.
Not all referrals to our Outpatient Clinics result in surgery.
The health questionaire
If you have not previously completed a ‘health questionnaire’ form, you may be asked to complete one at your appointment.
The health questionnaire is a form that highlights your past and current medical history, current medications, known allergies and your social or family situation.
The information gained from the health questionnaire helps the pre-admission nurse assess the need for further investigations, referrals, and whether you require an appointment in our anaesthetic and/or pre-admission clinic before your operation.
Allocating your elective surgery date
When you are placed on our elective surgery waiting list, you will complete a health questionnaire and be triaged by a pre-admission nurse. Based on information provided in your health questionnaire, the nurse will determine which of the following is required:
- a phone call to clarify medical conditions
- an appointment in our anaesthetic clinic
- no telephone call from pre-admission is required, because you are ready for surgery
- a surgery date is allocated based on your category and position on the wait list.
Patients are allocated a date for elective operation according to the urgency as determined by the doctor, and the number of days you have waited for an operation. Mercy Health implements a ‘treat-in-turn’ policy regardless of a patient’s public or private admission status. This means patients with greater urgency or clinical need are scheduled for their operation as a priority.
Please note, the doctor who performs your operation may not be the same doctor you saw at your outpatient appointment.
Understanding elective surgery categories and considerations at public hospitals
The Department of Health and Human Services requires all patients placed on a public hospital elective surgery waiting list to be assigned a clinical urgency category. The three urgency categories are:
- Category 1 – Admission is desirable for a condition that has the potential to deteriorate quickly to the point it may become an emergency.
- Category 2 – Admission within 90 days is desirable due to clinical condition of the patient.
- Category 3 – Admission within 365 days is desirable due to the clinical condition of the patient.
Patients on the elective surgery wait list are listed as either ‘ready for surgery’ or ‘not ready for surgery’. ‘Ready for surgery’ are patients who are ready to be admitted for their operation or begin the pre-admission process. ‘Not ready for surgery’ are patients who are not ready for surgery for either ‘patient’ or ‘clinical’ reasons, as described below.
- Patient reasons: For personal reasons, patients are not available to be admitted for their operation. For example, patients who have holiday or work commitments which prevent them from having their operation. There are time restrictions on the amount of time a patient can make themselves not ready for surgery for personal reasons and remain on the elective surgery waiting list.
- Clinical reasons: Patients are not available to be admitted for their operation until their clinical health improves. For example, patients who require cardiac review or respiratory investigations before their operation.
Patients with a urgent category/clinical need are scheduled for their operation as a priority. Patients with a lower urgency category are scheduled according to the number of days they have waited for their surgery within their urgency category.
Last reviewed September 28, 2017.