Back Assessment Clinic (Non-Emergency Low Back Pain)

The Backpain Assessment Clinic is the initial entry point for all adult patients with non-emergency back pain into the THS. The clinic provides triage for patients referred for specialist management of non-emergency low back pain and/or radicular leg symptoms lasting longer than 6 weeks who have failed to respond to conservative therapy.Patients are assessed by a multi-disciplinary team and includes screening to determine need for surgical intervention and/or exclude serious pathology. A management plan will be formulated with the patient and communicated to the GP and patient. Further investigations and onwards referral will be arranged as indicated.

Availability

North South North West Statewide

Scope

The aims of the clinic are to:

  • assess for the presence of serious pathology as a cause of symptoms
  • determine a need for surgical intervention and refer to Neurosurgery as required
  • determine whether further investigations (with a view to an injection or surgical procedure) are required
  • plan immediate and long-term management, including appropriate self-management strategies
  • make onward referrals to other health providers as indicated (e.g. Persistent Pain Service or Community Physiotherapy

Exclusions:

Patients who are currently receiving management from other services for the same problem, including the Persistent Pain Service or Department of Neurosurgery, will not be offered appointments. BAC will accept patients transferring from the Neurosurgery waiting list.

Paediatric patients with LBP are not seen in BAC and should be referred to other services.

BAC is not currently resourced to see persistent neck/thoracic pain, acute spinal pain or patients residing in the North and North-West of Tasmania. These patients will be triaged and referred to the appropriate service.

Emergency conditions

Clear documentation of Red Flags (particularly objective findings) will assist with triaging and prioritisation of patients.

Patients presenting with:

*cord compression (hyperreflexia / gait abnormalities)

*cauda equina signs / symptoms (bladder/bowel dysfunction, saddle paraesthesia)

*severe or rapidly progressing neurological deficits, including acute foot drop

*spinal disorder with red flags indicating tumour or infection

*significant spinal trauma

should be referred urgently to Neurosurgery via the Emergency Department. Please call the Neurosurgery Registrar on-call to advise of the presenting patient and relevant history.

Referral process

Please include relevant clinical history, any private investigation results and information on current neurological signs

Ask patients to bring current medication list and, if appropriate, any relevant imaging/ investigations.

NB: Additional imaging is not indicated unless there are neurological signs / other red flags or a history of trauma.

Clinic Appointments - Appointments are based on clinical priority, according to the referral information provided.

Emergency

Proceed to Emergency Department (ED).
LGH ED Reception  – Phone: (03) 6777 6405  Fax: (03) 6777 5201
MCH ED* – Phone: (03) 6478 5120  Fax: (03) 6441 5923
NWRH ED* – Phone: (03) 6493 6351 Fax: (03) 6464 1926
RHH ED Reception – Phone: (03) 6166 6100  Fax: (03) 6173 0489

Advice for medical practitioners can be given by the Medical Officer In Charge (MOIC) - see HealthPathways Tasmania for contact information.
*MCH and NWRH MOICs request GPs call them prior to referring a patient to ensure the patient is being sent appropriately to a safe destination.

Urgent / category 1

We will endeavour to see these patients within 4 weeks

Semi-urgent / category 2

We will endeavour to see these patients within 12 weeks

Routine / category 3

Next available appointment

Referral template

For use by health professionals only