FAQ

Below are some questions frequently asked by patients. Please click for more information.

Please contact us on enquiries@drbalalla.com.au if you have any further questions.

CAN I DRIVE AFTER SURGERY?

I do not advise any patient to drive a car in the first 24 hours after surgery under any circumstances. Beyond this period it is highly dependent on several factors.

Knee and lower limb surgery:

It depends on the type of surgery, and the side of surgery. Patients with a manual car cannot safely drive until either leg is pain-free, moving well, able to bear a reasonable weight, and not requiring a splint. Patients with an automatic vehicle have a similar requirement, but only on the right leg.

Upper limb surgery:

Both arms should be pain free, and you should be able to lift your arms horizontally in front of you. You should not drive if you are in a sling, cast, or splint.

HOW LONG UNTIL I CAN WORK?

This depends on the nature of the surgery, and the nature of your work. Please discuss this with me during the consultation. For a rough idea, please see the post operative protocols for that operation, and compare the different stages with your work and travel requirements.

HOW LONG DO I NEED TO STAY IN HOSPITAL?

Your hospital stay will be determined by the procedure. Please refer to the information sheet for the relevant operation for a guide to the usual length of stay. My team and I use state-of-the-art techniques to reduce pain after joint replacement, so many patients wish to leave hospital well before the expected discharge day. If you are progressing well, and are walking well, early discharge is possible.

HOW LONG WILL I NEED TO WAIT FOR MY SURGERY?

In general, for elective surgery, you can choose to have your surgery in a private or public hospital. Choosing a private hospital will very likely mean that your operation will happen sooner, and with your choice of surgeon. This wait is usually only 1-4 weeks. Non-insured patients and those preferring treatment at a public hospital can be placed on a waiting list at Westmead Public Hospital. The typical wait for surgery is several months. This surgery may be done by a training surgeon under my supervision.

HOW ARE YOUR FEES DETERMINED?

In general, fees are based on the Australian Medical Association’s recommended fee schedule. For treatment at a private hospital, there will be a part of your surgical fee which will not be covered by Medicare and your health fund. Any “gap” will be detailed in the quote you will receive. Surgical fees include some of your aftercare appointments.

WHAT ARE THE COSTS INVOLVED WITH SURGERY

The costs of surgery vary with the particular operation required, and with the level of insurance cover. In general, health funds cover the large majority of the costs of your hospital stay, including theatre fees, prosthesis costs, medications, and hospital admission fees. These costs are often significant, and usually comprise the majority of the total costs of the treatment. Most patients will also have a co-payment determined by their health fund policy by which there is a fixed payment per night of hospital stay, which the patient has to pay out of their own pocket. The details of this can be found by contacting your fund.

The fees for surgery and for the anaesthetic are covered only up to a certain amount by Medicare and your health fund. The difference between this amount and the fees charged is called the “gap”. Both the surgical fee and anaesthetic fee are likely to entail a gap if your surgery is performed at a private hospital.

Patients who are not in a health fund may choose to either request surgery via the public hospital system, or alternatively fund the costs of surgery and their hospital stay themselves. My secretary can provide a quote incorporating hospital and prosthetic costs if required. Patients may alternatively choose to join a health fund and proceed with surgery once the relevant waiting period has passed.

Although your in-hospital costs are not covered by the Medicare Safety Net, your out-of-hospital costs may be covered if they exceed certain thresholds. For more information, visit http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/medicare/medicare-safety-net.

If you wish to discuss the costs of consultation or surgery, please call my secretary Mel on (02) 9680 1315.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IF I ELECT TO BE TREATED AS A PRIVATE PATIENT?

If you elect to be treated as a private patient, you will be able to have your surgery sooner than in the public system. Typical waiting times in the public hospital system can be 6 months to a year, or longer. In cases of elective surgery, you will be able to choose the timing of your surgery to suit your work and home situation. As a private patient you are guaranteed that I will perform the surgery myself, where in the public hospital my commitment to training future surgeons means that one of my registrars may perform the surgery under my supervision.

DO YOU DISCOUNT FOR PENSIONERS?

Yes. All patients over 75 years are eligible for reduced fees.

DO I NEED TO SHAVE MY OWN LEGS PRIOR TO SURGERY?

No. Shaving prior to surgery has been associated with higher rates of infection. Skin nicks and scratches may mean that your surgery will be delayed for a week or two until they are fully healed. We prepare the affected knee with surgical hair clippers immediately prior to surgery, which is safer.

I HAVE NOTICED A SCRATCH/INFECTION/ULCER ON MY LEGS AND I AM DUE FOR SURGERY. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Please contact us as a matter of urgency. You can call my office, or send an email to enquiries@drbalalla.com.au. If you are able, an emailed photograph may be very helpful. The risk of infection may mean that your surgery would be better being delayed. In general, the risk is greater when you are having a larger operation, and when a prosthesis is involved.

WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE MY RECOVERY FASTER?

Eat a well balanced diet. Good nutrition is very important. The post-operative restrictions on your activity are there to prevent any damage or compromise of your operation. Please follow these carefully, and don’t jump ahead without consultation. Stop smoking. Both smoking and nicotine patches limit the blood flow to healing areas, and can slow your recovery. Plus, it will improve your general health. Ensure your other medical problems such as diabetes are well controlled. This will ensure that you are at your best capacity to recover from surgery.

DO YOU OFFER SURGERY IN THE PUBLIC HOSPITAL SYSTEM?

Yes. I currently offer public hospital surgery at Westmead Public Hospital. This surgery is performed without cost to you. However this does not include pre- and post-surgery consultations, where a fee is charged. Westmead Public Hospital is only able to accept patients over 14 years and 9 month of age.

HOW LONG IS YOUR WAITING LIST AT WESTMEAD PUBLIC HOSPITAL?

It is currently around 9-12 months.

IF I TAKE UP PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE, AND I HAVE A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION, WHEN WILL I BE COVERED FOR THAT CONDITION?

Yes. Most funds will cover pre-existing conditions after a 1 year waiting period, provided that your new policy covers you for that type of surgery. Many policies designed for younger patients exclude hip and knee replacement.