Frequently Asked Questions for Patients and Consumers - Specialist Outpatient Waiting Time Report of 31 October 2018
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Find answers to frequently asked questions about the second Specialist Outpatient Report for patients and consumers
SA Health offers many different types of outpatient services at public hospitals, GP Plus Health Care Centres and community clinics.
Waiting times to be seen in some outpatient services are now shown on the SA Health website.
You can see the waiting times in the Specialist Outpatient Waiting Time Report.
The Report shows the median, and maximum time a patient may have to wait for some outpatient appointments. The information supports you and your doctor to make informed decisions about your treatment options. Waiting time information is currently available for reported outpatient specialties at the following hospitals:
To see the waiting times for certain outpatient appointments, see the Specialist Outpatient Waiting Time Report page.
You can currently see waiting times for reported types of outpatient speciality services. Each outpatient service provides care and treatment for different types of patient conditions. Examples of what each outpatient specialty service does can be found on the types of conditions seen in specialty outpatient clinics web page.
The Report will be updated every three months. More outpatient specialty services may be added to the Report in the future.
’Outpatient services’ is the name given to a range of clinics that hospitals have for planned procedures, consultations or tests.
These services take place at public hospitals, GP Plus Health Care Centres and community clinics. These appointments do not require an overnight stay.
Outpatient services could be:
When you attend your specialist outpatient appointment, the specialist health team assess your condition and decide on the best course of treatment with you.
In most cases, you need a current referral from a health professional, usually a medical practitioner.
Your referral will contain important information about your condition. The referral will help the hospital decide how urgently you need an appointment.
When an appointment becomes available, the outpatient clinic will contact you to arrange a suitable appointment time.
The outpatient waiting time starts when your referral is received by a SA Health outpatient service. Your referral will be assessed by a clinician who will decide how urgently you need to be seen. Then, you may be either given an appointment or you may be added to an outpatient waiting list.
Once you are given an appointment or ‘scheduled’ you will no longer be waiting to be given an appointment and will not be identified in this Report.
The median is the half-way point (50%) of the waiting times information between the longest and shortest waiting times. Therefore, 50% of patients would be waiting less and 50% would be waiting more than the median waiting times provided in the Report.
The median waiting times are considered a more accurate measure because some people will have very short waiting time or very long waiting time and this can make the average measure less representative of actual time most people will wait for an appointment.
The time you may have to wait for an outpatient appointment depends on the type of service you need and how urgent your condition is.
The waiting time also depends on how many other patients are also waiting for an appointment and how urgent their needs are.
Patients with the most urgent needs are seen first:
‘Clinical urgency’ is the term used by hospitals to decide who should be seen first based on their condition.
A clinician decides how urgent your condition is by looking at:
The waiting times in the Report do not include urgent referrals that may need to be seen by a clinician within 30 days.
The waiting times are for ‘routine’ or non-urgent referrals for an appointment.
The waiting times are just an example of how long you may have to wait for an appointment.
Each outpatient specialty included in the Report has a number of different clinics. Each clinic will have different waiting times, which you cannot see in the Report.
In all cases, the maximum waiting time represents the time one individual patient has waited as per the date of the Report.
If there is a change in your condition while you are waiting for an outpatient appointment, you should return to your doctor for a review or seek medical advice.
Your doctor may provide updated information after reviewing you. They will send this to the outpatient service for a clinician to review how urgently you need to be seen.
If you have been on an outpatient waiting list for an appointment for 12 months or more, you should visit your doctor for a review or to discuss treatment options.
If there is a change in your condition before 12 months, you should return to your doctor for a review or seek medical advice.
If your situation changes and you no longer need an appointment, it is very important for you to tell the outpatient service.
This helps us to make our outpatient waiting lists accurate. We can take your name off the waiting list so other patients can get their appointments sooner.
For example, you may have had treatment in another hospital or seen a private specialist.
It is also important you tell the outpatient service if your contact details change so they can contact you when an appointment is available.
For more information speak with your doctor or visit Specialist Outpatient Waiting Times web page.