Changes to spirometry Medicare Benefits Schedule item numbers

From November 2018, changes have come into effect for Medicare Benefits Schedule item numbers related to respiratory function testing. 

Spirometry testing is the standard for the measurement of airflow obstruction. It is a reproducible and objective measure of airflow limitation, which assists in the diagnosis of asthma and COPD, as well as diagnosis and monitoring of patients with other respiratory conditions.

Prior to November respiratory function testing was covered by one item number only (11506), used for office-based spirometry by GPs. There are now two separate item numbers for diagnosis and monitoring of respiratory conditions (11505 and 11506). See below for further details about each item number: 

11505: The newly created item 11505 applies to GPs conducting office-based spirometry. This item attracts an increased rebate fee and can be for the diagnosis of COPD, asthma or any other cause of airflow limitation. As with use of any other tests, the practitioner should document the reasons there is a clinical indication for performing the spirometry when using this item number. This form of spirometry need to be conducted both before and after administration of a bronchodilator and requires three permanent recordings. This item can be used once every 12 months per patient. 

11506: The revised item 11506 also applies to GPs and is to be used as means of monitoring airway function. There is no limit on the number of tests performed, requiring only a permanently recorded trace before and after bronchodilator administration. The notes should include a previously diagnosed respiratory condition, which requires monitoring by the GP. MBS guidance states further that it can be used to confirm diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), assess acute exacerbations of asthma, monitor asthma and COPD, assess other causes of obstructive lung disease or the presence of restrictive lung disease.

Further information is available at MBS website.