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Direct GP referral for MRI will benefit patients

01 Nov 2013

The AMA welcomes today’s introduction of Medicare rebated GP referred MRI items for patients who are 16 years of age and over.

These items follow on from the introduction last year of GP referred MRI items for patients under 16 years of age.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said that the AMA has been advocating for years for GP referred MRIs.

“We congratulate the former and current Governments for the introduction of both phases of GP referral for MRI scans,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Previously, Medicare-rebated MRI scans could only be requested by other specialists, which could delay appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

“GPs were effectively denied direct access to the best available technology for their patients.

“These new items will improve access to care, reduce costs to the health system, and provide further support for GPs to provide better care for their patients.”

The new items will cover scans for:

  • The head - unexplained seizure(s) or unexplained chronic headache with suspected intracranial pathology;
  • The spine (two separate items) - suspected cervical radiculopathy or suspected cervical spine trauma; and
  • The knee - following acute knee trauma where there is an inability to extend the knee suggesting an acute meniscal tear or clinical findings suggest the acute anterior cruciate ligament tear.

Dr Hambleton said that the AMA would like to see more GP referred MRI items rolled out, including for lower back pain.

“We will continue to lobby the Government to expand access beyond those conditions listed above.

“MRI is now a normal part of patient care, and GPs should be able to treat patients using the best available technology, with the benefit of reducing exposure to radiation.”


1 November 2013


CONTACT:        John Flannery                     02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761

                        Kirsty Waterford                  02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753 

Published: 01 Nov 2013