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GPs able to refer children for MRI scans

Changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) commencing today allow GPs to directly refer children under 16 years of age for Medicare-funded MRI scans.Following extensive lobbying by the AMA, the 2011-12 Federal Budget allocated funding to allow for GP-referred MRI.  The AMA has worked closely with the Government on the implementation process. AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that GPs could now request Medicare-funded MRIs for all patients under 16 years of age for clinically appropriate indications.

01 Nov 2012

Changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) commencing today allow GPs to directly refer children under 16 years of age for Medicare-funded MRI scans.

Following extensive lobbying by the AMA, the 2011-12 Federal Budget allocated funding to allow for GP-referred MRI.  The AMA has worked closely with the Government on the implementation process.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that GPs could now request Medicare-funded MRIs for all patients under 16 years of age for clinically appropriate indications.

“Under previous arrangements, Medicare-funded MRI scans could only be requested by specialists, which could delay appropriate diagnosis and treatment,” Dr Hambleton said.

“GPs were not allowed access to the best available technology when caring for patients.

“This new arrangement will improve access to care, reduce costs to the health system, and provide further support for GPs to provide better care for patients.

“Importantly, it also avoids unnecessary patient exposure to ionising radiation in CT scanning.”

From today, GPs will be able to order MRI Medicare services for patients who under 16 years of age for:

  • scan of head for any of the following - unexplained seizure(s), unexplained headache where significant pathology is suspected, and paranasal sinus pathology that has not responded to conservative therapy;
  • scan of spine following radiographic examination for any or the following - significant trauma, unexplained neck or back pain with associated neurological signs, and unexplained back pain where significant pathology is suspected;
  • scan of knee following radiographic examination for internal joint derangement;
  • scan of hip following radiographic examination for any of the following - suspected septic arthritis, suspected slipped capital femoral epiphysis, and  suspected Perthes disease (disorder of the hip joint);
  • scan of elbow following radiographic examination where a significant fracture or avulsion injury is suspected that would change the way in which the patient is managed; and
  • scan of wrist following radiographic examination where scaphoid fracture is suspected.

 From 1 November 2013, GPs will be able to request MRIs for all patients over 16 years of age for clinically appropriate indications.


Published: 01 Nov 2012