When to Refer

Guidelines for referring hand injuries and conditions in Sydney's Southwest
Emergencies
type of injury referral timeframe treatment timeframe managment option action
amputations, vascular compromise, severe burns, severe infections immediately immediately all patients call the Hand Registrar, Fairfield Hospital 02 9616 8111

Emergencies are best dealt with via the public hospital system, which are equipped to deal with major trauma, regardless of the insurance status of the patient.

Acute Trauma
type of injury referral timeframe treatment timeframe management option action
open wounds - lacerations, open fractures, nailbed injuries ASAP 24-48 hrs private or compensible call the Hand Centre 02 9821 2284
open wounds - lacerations, open fractures, nailbed injuries ASAP 24-48 hrs public call the Hand Registrar, Fairfield Hospital, 02 9616 8111
closed wounds - fractures, mallet fingers, crush injuries ASAP within 7 days private or compensible call the Hand Centre 02 9821 2284
closed wounds - fractures, mallet fingers, crush injuries ASAP within 7 days public call the Hand Registrar, Fairfield Hospital, 02 9616 8111

Where the patient is privately insured or compensible (whether through WorkCover, DVA, MVA or other third party insurer), they have the option of choosing private treatment. For acute traumas, private treatment is just as fast, and often faster, than in the public system, and the patient is able to choose their surgeon.

Written referrals are required for referrals to our hand surgeons; these can be emailed or faxed. If in doubt about what you should do, call the Hand Centre for advice.

Less Acute and Chronic Conditions
type of injury referral timeframe treatment timeframe management option action
painful - carpal tunnel syndrome; tendonitis; arthritis at referrer's discretion according to urgency management by usual GP refer to hand therapy at the Hand Centre
painful - carpal tunnel syndrome; tendonitis; arthritis at referrer's discretion  according to urgency management by specialist refer to hand surgeon at the HandCentre
not painful - lumps, bumps & tumours; Dupuytren's disease; loss of function at referrer's discretion  according to urgency management by specialist refer to hand surgeon at the HandCentre

Most painful conditions can be treated with hand therapy. If you wish to manage your patient's condition or injury yourself, you can refer them directly to the hand therapists, who will maintain close contact with you during treatment. If the hand therapists feel that a specialist consultation may be beneficial, they will liaise directly with you.

Many conditions which are not particularly painful but are unsightly, worrisome or involve loss of function will require specialist assessment. These are best referred directly to a hand surgeon. If therapy is indicated, the surgeon will refer the patient to a hand therapist.

How long patients with less acute and chronic conditions wait for an appointment at the Hand Centre will depend on the urgency of their condition and their own convenience. The waiting time for hand therapy is short; typically patients can make an appointment within a  day or two, and often on the same day. The waiting time for a consulting surgeon is approximately 1-3 weeks for private patients, depending on the problem, but will be longer for public patients, for whom, once diagnosed, there is generally a further wait for treatment in the public system. Patients with acute traumas will be seen on the same or following day, or, where appropriate, referred to Fairfield Hospital.

Written referrals are not required for referrals to our hand therapists unless your patient is WorkCover, DVA, MVA or other third party insurer.

Suite 4, Level 4, 171 Bigge St, Liverpool NSW 2170