ANZCA ABC response anaesthesia billing

01 May 2024

The college responded to an ABC online article ahead of publication on 1 May


ANZCA was contacted for a response by the ABC before publication of the online article on Wednesday 1 May alleging questionable billing practices involving three chronic pain patients featured in an earlier ABC TV Four Corners program. The Four Corners "Pain Factory" program aired on Monday 8 April. 
Here is our full response: 
Nearly three million anaesthesia procedures are performed each year in Australia by specialist anaesthetists including the 6800 anaesthetists who are active fellows of the college.   
The overwhelming majority of anaesthetists and specialist pain medicine physicians operate with integrity and make every effort to comply with increasingly complex billing requirements.   
We can’t comment on the individual cases you have highlighted but acknowledge the distress experienced by patients in telling their stories.   
However, as the body representing the professional standards of specialist anaesthetists and specialist pain medicine physicians, ANZCA supports the investigation of any allegations of overservicing, wastage and unprofessional behaviour by the relevant federal regulatory authorities and for appropriate action to be taken for serious compliance breaches.  
In 2017, the Anaesthesia Clinical Committee made preliminary recommendations to the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce. ANZCA acknowledges the final recommendations of the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce 2020.  
ANZCA recognises the Australian Society of Anaesthetists as having expertise in billing for professional services and associated MBS item numbers.   
ANZCA, the peak body for the education, training and safety standards of anaesthetists and specialist pain medicine physicians, supports the work of the Professional Services Review (PSR) in investigating inappropriate practices in Medicare billing. Any changes to the referral process would require widespread consultation and legislative change.  

Last updated 14:09 1.05.2024