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Patients Spend More Time With the Physician for Excision of a Malignant Skin Lesion Than for Excision of a Benign Skin Lesion

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Currently, there is a difference in reimbursement between excision of malignant and benign lesions. There is concern that there is not sufficient rationale for differential reimbursement for these two procedures. Objective.

To assess whether there is a difference in physician work involved with excision of benign versus malignant skin tumors. Method.

We searched National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey data for visits at which excision of benign and malignant skin lesions was performed. We compared the time spent with the physician at these two types of visits. To exclude confounding issues unrelated to the excision that would affect the time of visit, we excluded visits at which multiple diagnoses were addressed. Results.

The mean time spent with the physician at visits for excision of benign lesions was 22.9±1.0 minutes. The mean time spent with the physician at visits for excision of malignant lesions was 30.0±1.7, 30% longer (p < 0.001). The longer time for excision of malignant lesions remained significant after controlling for age, gender, and race. Conclusion.

Excision of malignant lesions involves more physician work than does excision of benign lesions. Elimination of differential compensation for benign versus malignant skin lesion procedures would not enhance the accuracy of reimbursement. In the absence of any compelling rationale to change the existing differential reimbursement, the proposals to do so are not warranted.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Departments of Dermatology and Public Health Sciences and the Center for Dermatology Research, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 2: State University of New York Health Sciences Center at Brooklyn, Brooklyn, New York

Publication date: 2004-03-01

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