Surgeons Ask Family Doctor to Remove Sutures
It is all too common for surgeons to advise patients to “follow up with your family doctor to have your sutures removed”.
Again, let’s set aside the associated costs for a second. Is it not in the patient’s best interest to follow up with their surgeon after a procedure, including for wound assessment? (Again, rhetorical). After all, it is the surgeon who has the expertise to know what to should be expected post-operatively, and what complications to watch out for.
Related to this, it’s equally common for a patient to be advised “follow up with your family doctor in two weeks” after a procedure. Why? Isn’t the person who performed the procedure the most appropriate person to reassess the patient?
Regardless, let’s look at the costs when a patient is directed to the Family Doctor’s office for suture removal:
$10 may not seem like much. But it adds up when compounded multiple times each week. It certainly adds to the time and cost burden for Family Doctors.
Most importantly, though, all of the post-operative care for the first two weeks is included in the fee codes the surgeon bills to OHIP.
And again, the Family Doctor generates zero revenue here. The Family Doctor only incurs the costs because without seeing the patient, there are no OHIP codes the family doctor can bill here.
And paradoxically, it’s even worse when the Family Doctor needs to see the patient. When the nurse has a concern about wound healing, infection, or another post-operative complication, the nurse then has to find the Family Doctor, causing even more disruption and costs. (FHO Family Doctors only get to bill $3.56 or $5.52 in shadow-billings if called in to assess the post-operative patient, for what will surely amount to 10-20 minutes of work or more).
And if there are post-operative concerns, why again is the patient sitting in the Family Doctor’s office and not the Surgeon’s?