COVID-19 – Advice and FAQs


Members are invited to review surgeon-specific information in the COVID-19 Member Information Hub and share thoughts and feedback through the COVID-19 Member Forum.

Orthopaedic care during the COVID-19 pandemic

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become necessary to delay almost all elective surgery so that the hospital resources and equipment as well the orthopaedic, anaesthetic and nursing workforce are able to continue to manage the urgent and emergency needs of our community. For patients that were scheduled to undergo orthopaedic operations or to be seen by orthopaedic surgeons, there may now be several months wait before their operations or consultations can proceed.

AOA is working with both private and public hospitals to ensure essential surgery is done. We are trying to make sure that we don’t use many resources so that they are available for healthcare workers who need them for COVID-19 patients. We also don’t want to put anyone at risk of being infected by the virus as orthopaedic surgery frequently involves the use of equipment that can risk spreading the virus around and presents a risk to healthcare workers. 

Often, orthopaedic patients are older Australians with heart and breathing conditions; some have weakened immune systems. Orthopaedic procedures involve admission to hospitals and the use of health resources including personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Rehabilitation from surgery frequently involves regular post-operative visits, which will be difficult when we are required to be in social isolation as a preventative measure against COVID-19. 

AOA recognises that delays in elective surgery will have an impact on many patients, and we are providing the most up-to-date and scientifically accurate information for patients to help them manage their conditions until they can have elective surgery done.

AOA recommends that Telehealth consultations can be safely used for any urgent conditions. AOA encourages you to speak to your local orthopaedic practice about how they can assist you in managing your condition. Like many small businesses in Australia, they will be pleased to be of service. 

As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic is over, the Government will allow elective operations and clinic appointments to restart as quickly as possible. All hospitals, orthopaedic surgeons, anaesthetists and associated staff will work as hard as possible to ensure that you get the treatment that you need. We will work together to continue the delivery of quality care to our patients.
 

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Frequently asked questions

Essential orthopaedic surgery includes time critical operations such as:

  • Major trauma surgery
  • Acute fracture and dislocation surgery
  • Tumour surgery
  • Surgery for infections
  • Urgent spinal surgery
  • Surgery required for intractable pain

Please speak to your surgeon or general practitioner about this. Information has been provided to them regarding what specific conditions require surgery.  

Any surgery can impact the immune system. In some cases it may not be a big impact but it is always better to be safe. This does mean that some people waiting to have surgery might need to wait longer for their procedure.

There is a higher risk that you may catch COVID-19 in hospital. This is one of the reasons why non-urgent surgeries are being delayed. If you have an orthopaedic medical condition and are concerned about going to an appointment, please contact your GP or specialist who can arrange a Telehealth appointment.

Telehealth is the use of telecommunication techniques (phones, videoconference etc) to deliver and provide medical education and health education over a distance. It also allows people to exchange health information and provide health care services regardless of where they are.

What this means for you is that you are able to consult with your GP or specialist without having to be in the same room.

Yes. As a result of COVID-19 and prioritising the safety of patients the Telehealth consultation is bulkbilled.  

The services will be available until 30 September 2020 but will be reviewed before this date. 

To use Telehealth services with your GP or specialist simply call and make the necessary arrangements. Your GP or specialist will let you know if your consultation can occur over the phone or if it needs to be a videoconference.

Please note that in order to use Telehealth for an initial specialist consultation you will need a referral from your GP. Once you have the referral you will need to contact the specialist rooms to book the consultation.

It is important that the information we use to guide our behaviour and decisions in relation to the virus comes from reliable sources. 

  • LitCovid, a curated literature hub for tracking up-to-date scientific information about the 2019 novel coronavirus


AOA and subspecialty publications on COVID-19

AOA Position statement on orthopaedic surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic

To see all publications about AOA and AOA subspecialty responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, please see our Advocacy page

Events

In line with government recommendation and regulations around large gatherings, many AOA scientific meetings have been postponed. Advice regarding many events has been distributed to members via email (available below in the communications section). Up-to-date information can be located on the Key Events and Calendar pages of this site.
Should you have queries regarding upcoming events that cannot be answered through these pages, please contact AOA Conference and Events Manager Alison Fallon at alison.fallon@aoa.org.au

Selection in the AOA 21 Training Program

The 2020 selection interviews, originally scheduled for 13 June, have been postponed.

We have not made this decision lightly. We understand the stressful and time-consuming preparation that applicants go through in the lead-up to the selection process, and we will continue to work to support all applicants through these challenging times.

The CV marking and referee-report collection processes will continue as normal.

Further information will be provided to applicants as soon as practicable.

Queries or concerns regarding selection should be directed to selection@aoa.org.au

Training

We expect that as COVID-19 spreads and the health workforce responds, there may be circumstances where trainees are pulled away from their usual duties. We understand that these are exceptional circumstances and want to assure all traineers that this will be taken into consideration. While it is imperative that standards of competency are maintained, if trainees experience difficulties around access or completion they are encouraged to contact their regional manager with details.

When it comes to the need for completion of certain courses or exams that are not being run, contingencies will be put into place to ensure your training status can be maintained. We will ensure that no trainee will be unfairly penalised as a result of matters outside their control.

Further advice for trainees is available via the AOA COVID-19 member information hub.

Accreditation of AOA 21 Training sites

 

AOA has postponed all hospital training post accreditation visits for up 12 months given the likely significant disruptions to health services. Hospitals expecting an accreditation visit will have received a letter advising them of the postponement. The Accreditation Committee will shortly review these applications, and give consideration to extending accreditation for up to 12 months. Where required to ensure the safety and welfare of AOA Trainees, we will consider alternative approaches to review, such as teleconference and paper-based submissions on a case-by-case basis.