The following flowchart represents the typical steps that a patient will follow when attending the pain centre. For more information on each step please click on that step.
Patients need a referral from an appropriate medical practitioner, typically their General Practitioner (G.P.).
Referral letters can be faxed to 9515 9831, or posted to:
Pain Management Centre RPAH,
59 Missenden Rd
Camperdown NSW 2050.
Alternatively they can be delivered in person to the Pain Centre. Patients should bring all relevant medical reports and scans/ X-Rays to their first appointment.
Once a referral letter has been received a package of questionnaires needs to be completed, preferably on-line. The questionnaires are standard for everyone who attends a pain centre in Australia. The questionnaires contribute to the Electronic Persistent Pain Outcome Collaboration, or ePPOC. You can read more about ePPOC here: http://ahsri.uow.edu.au/eppoc/index.html
These questionnaires can take some time to complete; however, they are an important part of the assessment process. Our nurses review the questionnaires during triage, which is the first step in allocating the services likely to be helpful. These questionnaires are also reviewed by our clinicians, which aids getting a sense of your experience with pain before you arrive.
From time to time during your care with us we will also ask you to complete some shortened follow-up questionnaires which help us assess how your pain condition is responding to treatment.
Once you have submitted your questionnaires we will normally ask you to attend our introductory chronic pain educational programme, which we call "STEPs". The aim of STEPs is to help patients better understand what chronic pain is and to get a brief overview of the pain management strategies that have been shown to be helpful when living with chronic pain.
Following attending STEPs many patients choose to proceed with a full assessment, whilst others feel they are now adequately equipped to manage their pain in conjunction with their GP. Patients are invited to discuss and advise the Pain Centre how they wish to proceed.
Patients who choose to continue with a full assessment are allocated to a particular Doctor and a Psychologist or Psychiatrist. Whilst all the doctors at the Pain Centre are experienced with chronic pain management each clinician has a slightly different area of interest. Our pain nurses use your referral letter and the submitted questionnaires to which of our team will be allocated to each patient.
The assessment process involves meeting with members of the team to discuss your pain problems. All patients see a Doctor, and either a Clinical Psychologist or Psychiatrist. The total time for the assessment is approximately two hours. Patients are reminded to bring all relevant investigations, X-rays and medical reports to their assessment.
After the assessments are conducted the entire Pain Centre team meet to discuss every new patient. From this meeting a plan is developed and a feedback letter including possible treatment options will be sent to the patient's General Practitioner as well as other referring doctors. Patients are asked to discuss these treatment options with their GP. Sometimes we may ask you to come back again for further assessment or to be seen by other members of the team.
There are a number of treatment options that may be recommended based on the assessment of the individual pain problem. Please see the "Treatments Available" section for a detailed description of each option. Following the assessment the patient should make an appointment to see their General Practitioner to discuss the recommended options, which are sent in a letter form to the General Practitioner after the team planning meeting.
The referral and assessment processes for Worker's Compensation and Motor Vehicle Accident patients are slightly different. Please see the Worker's Compensation and Motor Vehicle Accident section for more details.