News in brief: Cardiologist repays $550,000 in MBS rebates; 1 in 10 AF patients have readmissions; Climate change sceptic cardiologist in RACP election

Cardiologist repays $550,000 in MBS rebates

A cardiologist has agreed to repay $550,000  in MBS rebates after being investigated by the Medicare compliance watchdog the Professional Services Review(PSR).

The unnamed cardiologist was found to have inappropriately claimed several MBS items including some for stress echocardiography and ECG Testing.

The PSR investigation found that the practitioner rendered MBS items 110, 117 and 133 in excess of 98% of their peers and the Director had “persisting concerns” in relation to several items.

In some cases, MBS requirements were not being met and the services performed were not of sufficient complexity to justify the billing of the items.

“Not all investigations initiated were clinically indicated.  For example, in many instances it appears that tests were performed routinely even if the patient did not present with any new symptoms,” the PSR noted..

Other concerns related to the cardiologist not meeting the minimum time requirements for some items and the practitioner’s records being inadequate

“The practitioner acknowledged having engaged in inappropriate practice in connection with rendering these items of concern. The practitioner agreed to repay $550,000, to be disqualified from providing MBS items 117, 132 and 133 services for 12 months and will be reprimanded by the Director,” the PSR said in its latest summary of outcomes.

1 in 10 AF patients have readmissions

Almost one in ten patients hospitalised for atrial fibrillation has an unplanned readmission within a month, Australian figures show.

A review of data for 301,654 patients hospitalised for AF, of which two thirds were acute presentations showed that 29,750 (9.9%) experienced an unplanned readmission within 30 days.

The figures derived from AF hospitalisations between 2010 to 2015 at all public and most private hospitals in Australia and New Zealand, also showed that 63% of unplanned readmissions occurred within 14 days.

Unplanned readmissions were more likely to occur following an acute versus elective AF hospitalisations (12.5% vs 4.9%).

The most common reasons for readmissions were recurrence of AF (33.2%), and preventable conditions including heart failure (9.0%) and  pneumonia (2.4%) and acute myocardial infarction  (1.7%).

“Improved clinical management of AF and transitional care planning are required to reduce unplanned readmissions following AF hospitalisations,” said the study authors in Heart Lung and Circulation.

Climate change sceptic cardiologist in RACP election

A ‘climate change sceptic’ cardiologist, Dr Tristam Smyth, who works in private practice in Tamworth, NSW, is one of five candidates for the post of RACP President Elect.

Dr Smyth is standing in the RACP election that will take place at its AGM on Friday 13 May 2022, with online voting is currently open until 13 April

The other nominees are paediatrician Professor Elizabeth Elliott, nephrologist Dr Sharmila Chandran, clinical pharmacologist Professor Jennifer Martin and gastroenterologist Dr Steven Bollipo.

In his candidate statement Dr Smyth says he on a single man crusade against politically correct nonsense at the College. He claims the RACP has ignored evidence that burning fossil fuels could have minimal impact on global warming “and may even be beneficial to overall human wellbeing.”

Dr Smyth accuses the College of scientific incompetence and says its support for statements warning that anthropogenic climate change is a global public health emergency is alarmist.


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