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Issue 11 Autumn 2010
Item in focus – Specialist hand therapy
Hand injuries occur frequently in the workplace and while most are relatively minor, some injuries can cause trauma to the wrist, hand and fingers.
The Specialist hand therapy items in our table of costs were introduced in 2007 to recognise the complex treatment provided by hand therapists to injured workers.
Currently there are two items applicable for hand therapy, (1000287 for physiotherapists and 6000287 for occupational therapists).
The table of costs define the specialised hand therapy item as:
'An advanced clinical specialty area devoted to treating a variety of upper extremity physical conditions. The program provides one-on-one consultation and treatment services to workers who have injuries that occur in the upper extremity below the level of the shoulder. The goal of the program is to provide early, specialised treatment to assist the worker to achieve maximal use of the injured extremity and early return to work. Specialist hand therapy services will be provided according to the worker's specific injury and needs, applying evidence-based protocols where applicable.'
Prior approval is required from the insurer except for when a medical specialist (e.g. Hand surgeon, Neurosurgeon or Orthopaedic specialist) has referred the worker for hand therapy. When a medical specialist has made the referral the seven pre-approved sessions rule applies. If a General Practitioner refers the worker, the hand therapist is required to obtain prior approval from the insurer through a Provider Management Plan in the insurer's preferred method.
In order to charge an insurer under these item codes a provider should be a full member of the Australian Hand Therapy Association (AHTA).
If there is not a full member in the worker's area, or the treating therapist is not a full member, there is provision for the use of this code if the provider can demonstrate the recognised skills and training in hand therapy services to the insurer.
Providers should always confirm with the insurer regarding the recognition of their expertise when they are not a full member of the AHTA.
Check out the table of costs on our website for further details about the experience required.
Please note that not all injuries to the upper limb will require the use of the specialist hand therapy item code. In these circumstances use of the standard consultation item codes are more appropriate.