Expanded access to Medicare-funded Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) services is said to benefit thousands of patients, particularly children, from November 1.
Patients will have improved access to 'ongoing, affordable and convenient diagnostic imaging services' with an additional 191 Medicare-eligible MRI services available from yesterday (November 1).
"The Gillard government is delivering a $104.4 million Australia-wide expansion of Medicare-eligible MRI services to make it easier for patients to get affordable scans closer to home," said minister for health Tanya Plibersek.
"Partial Medicare-eligibility is provided for 161 MRI units in metropolitan locations and full Medicare-eligibility is provided for 30 MRI units in regional locations."
Children will have increased access to MRI services with the package allowing GPs to order MRIs for patients under the age of 16 for a 'small set of clinically appropriate indications'.
Patients under the age of 16 will be able to have an MRI for a scan of the spine for unexplained back or neck pain, the head for certain symptoms, the knee for internal joint derangement and the hip, elbow and wrist for certain indications.
"These new measures will enable GPs to provide referrals, rather than have their parents take them to a specialist which would take extra time and be an added expense," said Ms Plibersek.
"That will help cut down both the time and the money that parents spend on treating their children."
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