Issue number:
01/2020
Date Issued:
03 Feb 2020
Issued to:
Public hospitals, health services and Ambulance Victoria
Purpose:
To advise hospitals, health services and Ambulance Victoria on access to appropriate health care for patients being investigated and managed for Tuberculosis (TB) and leprosy.

This circular rescinds and replaces hospital circular 02/2017 issued 03 February 2017.

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Leprosy, although rare in Victoria, is an infectious disease associated with significant morbidity.  It is in the interests of the health of Victorians that patients being investigated and managed for TB and leprosy access appropriate health care.

Patients have the right to elect to be treated privately and should be provided with the necessary information to make an informed decision. Where private insurance is available, health services should ensure that there are no ‘out-of-pocket’ costs incurred so there is no impediment to maintenance of public health.

From time to time, patients from overseas who do not have private health insurance and are not eligible to be treated for these conditions under Medicare rules may present at public hospitals.

To protect public health and minimise the potential barriers for continuing care, both inpatient and outpatient services related to suspected or confirmed active TB or confirmed latent TB (including pathology, diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, ancillary treatments, dispensing fees and patient ambulance transfer costs directly related to TB care) should be provided free of charge to all people presenting to public hospitals and health services in Victoria, regardless of Medicare eligibility or residency status.

For confirmed leprosy patients, both inpatient and outpatient services (including pathology, diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, ancillary treatments and dispensing fees directly related to leprosy care) should be provided free of charge to all people presenting to public hospitals and health services in Victoria, regardless of Medicare eligibility or residency status.

In order to address potential public health risk it is expected that, where appropriate available beds exist, any patient requiring inpatient TB management will be admitted to a hospital on request of the Victorian Tuberculosis Program.

For further information regarding the management of patients with TB please refer to the relevant section of the current year’s Victorian Health Policy and Funding Guidelines or contact the Victorian Tuberculosis Program on 03 9342 9478.