Clinical guidance for MRI referral

Development process

Developing the guideline

DoHA commissioned the RACGP in July 2013 to produce this guidance in time for the introduction of the new MBS-supported MRI referral items in November 2013. Given the limited timeframe, the RACGP took a pragmatic approach to the development of this guidance, but one which is in line with guideline development best practice.

The RACGP convened a GP-led Advisory Group, drawing on GP members with expertise and experience in guideline development and in general and musculoskeletal medicine. A literature search was conducted and key resources were identified. We searched international guidelines and high-grade, evidence-based statements on the specific indications to determine the role and overall benefit of imaging. We documented evidence-based statements, significant issues regarding imaging choice, and any evidence of potential harms.

This guidance provides recommendations based on current, evidence-based guidelines such as those from the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN), the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). In cases where recommendations specific to the indication were not available, other sources, such as systematic reviews, have been used to inform recommendations.

The guidance was progressively developed under the direction of the Advisory Group. The process was informed by feedback and information received from clinical experts and stakeholders. These include:

  • Arthritis Victoria
  • Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists
  • Neurosurgical Society of Australasia
  • Dr Andrew Boyden, Clinical Advisor at National Prescribing Service (NPS) Medicine Wise
  • Mr Tony McBride, Health and Community Consultant
  • Dr Scott Masters, RACGP National Faculty of Specific Interests – Musculoskeletal Network
  • Professor Michele Sterling, Associate Director, Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Queensland.

The RACGP is grateful for information provided by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) in its Guidance for GP referrals for MRI studies, which is referenced in this guidance.