T8.7 Aftercare (Post-operative Treatment)

T8.7.1 Section 3(5) of the Health Insurance Act states that services included in the Schedule (other than attendances) include all professional attendances necessary for the purposes of post-operative treatment of the patient (for the purposes of this book, post-operative treatment is generally referred to as "after-care"). However, it should be noted that in some instances the after-care component has been specifically excluded from the item and this is indicated in the description of the item. In such cases benefits would be payable on an attendance basis where post-operative treatment is necessary. In other cases, where there may be doubt as to whether an item actually does include the after-care, this fact has been reinforced by the inclusion of the words "including after-care" in the description of the item.

T8.7.2 After-care is deemed to include all post-operative treatment rendered by medical practitioners and need not necessarily be limited to treatment given by the surgeon or to treatment given by any one medical practitioner.

T8.7.3 The amount and duration of after-care consequent on an operation may vary between patients for the same operation, as well as between different operations which range from minor procedures performed in the medical practitioner's surgery, to major surgery carried out in hospital. As a guide to interpretation, after-care includes all attendances until recovery from the operation (fracture, dislocation etc.) plus the final check or examination, regardless of whether the attendances are at the hospital, rooms, or the patient's home.

T8.7.4 Attendances which form part of after-care, whether at hospitals, rooms, or at the patient's home, should not be shown on the doctor's account. When additional services are itemised, the doctor should show against those services on the account the words "not normal after-care", with a brief explanation of the reason for the additional services.

T8.7.5 Some minor operations are merely stages in the treatment of a particular condition. Attendances subsequent to such operations should not be regarded as after-care but rather as a continuation of the treatment of the original condition and attract benefits. Items to which this policy applies are Items 30219, 30223, 32500, 34521, 34524, 38406, 38409, 39015, 41626, 41656, 42614, 42644, 42650 and 47912. Likewise, there are a number of services which may be performed during the aftercare period of procedures for pain relief which would also attract benefits. Such services would include all items in Groups T6 and T7 and Items 39013, 39100, 39115, 39118, 39121, 39127, 39130, 39133, 39136, 39324 and 39327.

T8.7.6 Where a patient has been operated on in a recognised hospital as a public patient (as defined in Section 3(1) of the Health Insurance Act), and where aftercare is directly related to the episode of admitted care for which the patient was treated free of charge as a public patient, the aftercare should be provided free of charge as part of the public hospital service.

Note For more details please contact the Australian Department of Health and Ageing about Medicare Benefits Schedule