The ‘ Porsche pro­ce­dure’ that’s earn­ing doc­tors mil­lions

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

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.”

Se­na­tor Griff.

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