American College of Surgeons, 20 Others Offer Guide on Operations Requiring Physicians as Assistants

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The American College of Surgeons and 20 other surgical specialty organizations jointly published the 2011 Physicians as Assistants at Surgery, which guides surgeons on whether an operation may require a physician as an assistant, according to an ACS news release.

Participating organizations indicated whether a physician as an assistant is required almost always, sometimes or almost never for various procedures, which are listed by CPT code. The publication includes an additional 371 CPT codes from the 2007 edition.

The study showed that for CPT code 11424 — excision, benign lesion including margins, except skin tag (unless listed elsewhere), scalp, neck, hands, feet, genitalia; excised diameter 3.1- 4.0 cm — a physician as an assistant is almost never needed. When the diameter is greater than 4 cm, however, a physician assistant is sometimes needed.

Some of the operations that almost always require a physician as an assistant include CPT codes 15958 and 15956 — excision, trochanteric pressure ulcer, in preparation for muscle or myocutaneous flap or skin graft closure with and without ostectomy, respectively. 

Read the American College of Surgeons release on physicians as assistants.

Read the Physicians as Assistants at Surgery study (pdf).

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