INFOrmation When You Require SURGERY

Do I need surgery?

Orthopaedic surgery is usually performed to improve a patient’s function, either by relieving pain, restoring movement or stability to a joint. In some cases – particularly in children, surgery may be recommended to prevent problems occurring to a limb in the future.

Unless there is a severe fracture, dislocation, tumor, or rapidly progressive deformity, surgery is always a choice. The conditions mentioned above generally need surgery to help prevent deterioration and irreversible damage.

When considering the treatment of their condition, “Do I need surgery?” is a question that patients often ask.

The answer depends on the patient’s symptoms and how debilitating the symptoms are for that patient’s lifestyle. For example an up and coming professional athlete who has an unstable knee may decide to go ahead and have surgery to fix this as soon as possible, so as to enable a return to sport, however someone leading a less active lifestyle may choose to modify their activities, try medications or physiotherapy prior to seeking surgical treatment.

It is important to remember that your perception of how successful your surgery is, will depend greatly on how severe your symptoms and pain are to start with. The same operation performed on two separate patients will be seen differently if their experiences of pain are different. For example, someone with only moderate pain and disability may see the operation as only moderately successful because it will only cause a small improvement in their pain. Someone with severe pain and disability will be much happier with their operation as it will have a much bigger impact on their lives.

It is also important to consider the potential risks of surgery to your health. All surgery carries risks of both the anaesthetic and the procedure itself. These can be significant and very occasionally life-threatening. You must weigh up your potential for improvement with an operation, against the potential risks involved with the surgery.

Patients are often worried that taking medication for the rest of their life can be bad for their health. Most painkillers are safe and this is certainly not a reason in itself to have or not have an operation.

Mostly orthopaedic surgery is a choice that we will help you make. It is a combination of the information you as a patient provide, the examination and imaging that will allow us to make recommendations.

Ultimately it is your choice.

What does surgery involve?

Surgery is a process which involves admission to hospital and an operative procedure being performed in an operating theatre. This would usually be done under local, regional or general anaesthetic.

Some procedures such as arthroscopy can be performed as a day case while more involved procedures require admission to hospital overnight or for several days. Dr Maine operates at Brisbane Private and North West Private Hospitals.

What do I take to Hospital?

    • Any X-ray or MRI scans that relate to your procedure
    • Medicare Card
    • Private Health care Card
    • Toiletries and a comfortable pillow if you think you might need it
    • Pyjamas and change of clothes
    • Any mobility aids you may require including crutches, moon boots, and post-operative walking shoes.

What are the Costs of SURGERY

There are several costs to surgery and it can be frustrating to receive bills which you were not made aware of prior to your operation. This information aims to explain the various expenses that can be incurred with an operation.

1. Surgeon’s Fees:

All orthopaedic surgeries are covered by Medicare item numbers. These numbers have an associated rebate. The government determines these rebates and the private health insurance companies supplement these rebates by up to 25%.

Unfortunately, these rebates have not changed much since 1983 and have not kept up with inflation, let alone the costs of running a quality practice and the increasing cost of Medical Indemnity Insurance. The difference between the costs and the rebates has given rise to the GAP. Most surgeons will charge AMA (Australian Medical Association) rates for the services. This is almost three times the Medicare rebate and reflects the true discrepancy. We kindly request surgery is paid 48 hours prior to procedure being performed.

Prior to surgery, you will be given a list of the anticipated item numbers that will apply to your operation. Your HCF will provide an additional rebate to the fees. Fees for surgery vary considerably based on the procedure being performed. An estimate of fees will be provided prior to surgery with a list of anticipated item numbers. The practice requests that patients contact their health insurer with these item numbers to ensure they are covered for surgery.

Dr. Maine bills at the recommended AMA fee. Patients are then able to claim through their private insurance.

2. Anaesthetist’s Fees: (the specialist who provides the anaesthetic to the patient)

These fees will be charged directly by the Anaesthetist. Dr Maine utilises the service of several Anaesthetists, you will be provided their details prior to surgery and will be provided an estimate of fees directly from their rooms.

3. Assistants Fee (this is the doctor who assists Dr Maine)

In addition to Dr Maine’s fees a Surgical Assistant fee may also apply, typically this fee is 20% of the surgical fees.

4. Hospital bed and Theatre costs:

If you have private health insurance this is confined to your excess, but certain procedures may be excluded from your policy and therefore need to be checked prior to booking in surgery.

5. Pathology and Radiology:

These are blood tests and imaging taken during your inpatient stay that may also incur added costs.

6. Implants and Prosthesis:

Most of these are covered by your insurance company, but once again it is important to check with them prior to the surgery. Most orthopaedic consultations and procedures are covered by Medicare item numbers.