The ‘ Porsche procedure’ that’s earning doctors millions
IT’S KNOWN as the “Porsche procedure” — an ultrasound injection that has had a 56-fold increase, raising questions about doctors ripping off Medicare.
There were over 219,000 musculoskeletal ultrasound injections in Australia in 2015-16, compared with just 7712 in 2001.
Senator Sterling Griff raised the issue of doctors overusing this procedure in a recent Senate Estimates hearing.
“I am aware of specialists who state that this particular procedure has effectively bought them their Porsche because quite simply they can effectively just do the injection, do a very quick ultrasound and claim a substantial amount,” Senator Griff said.
Professor Paul Glasziou from the Faculty of Health Science and Medicine at Bond University said he was investigating reasons for the exponential growth in the cost of medicine.
He said the ageing population only accounted for a fraction of the growth.
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care’s Professor Anne Duggan said “these very large differences we are seeing suggest some of this variation may be unwarranted”.
NSW, with a population of 7.7 million, accounted for 65,673 procedures last year, but South Australia performed 53,736, despite having just 1.7 million.
Spokeswoman for the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Radiologists, Dr Cheryl Bass, refuted any suggesting of over-servicing.
“It’s not happening. He (Senator Griff) has never lain awake at night with an aching hip or shoulder. It is an extremely effective treatment and it means rehabilitation can start because pain is no longer restricting you,” Dr Bass said. “I’ve been doing these for over 20 years, it changes lives.”