Objective: To assess the use of medical practitioners' services by mothers and their babies in the 6 months following childbirth.
Methodology: Aggregated Medicare data detailing medical practitioner services provided to a random sample of 650 Victorian babies born between 1 March and 31 May 1993 and their mothers were obtained from the Health Insurance Commission. This provided data on services provided between March and December of 1993 to the selected cohort. Services provided by the public hospital system to mothers and babies are not included.
Results: Mothers and babies in the sample used 6404 medical practitioner services in the 6 months following birth; 57% of services were to babies, 43% to mothers. Of the 6404 medical practitioner services 5042 (79%) were provided by general practitioners (GP), 804 (12%) by paediatricians, 319 (5%) by obstetricians and 239 (4%) by ‘other’ specialists. The mean number of visits to a GP by mothers was 3.5 and by babies was 4.2 in the 6 months following birth. General practitioners were more likely to be vocationally registered and there were differences in the item numbers charged between those who were vocationally registered and those who were not. The length of GP consultation differed significantly between mothers' and babies' visits.
Conclusions: A previously undocumented level of postnatal use of medical practitioner services is presented. It suggests a significant level of postnatal maternal and infant morbidity that requires further study.