Skin excision and cryotherapy procedures come under scrutiny

Skin cancers

By Michael Woodhead

5 Jul 2019

Dermatologists are being urged to take part in a voluntary claims review of Skin Excision Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Items that will start in July 2019.

The Australasian College of Dermatologists says the Department of Health will be writing to about 100 dermatologists, general surgeons, plastic surgeons and GPs to ask them to review their claims.

According to the College, the aim of the claims review being conducted by Medicare’s Provider Benefits Integrity Division is “to allow the Department to design comprehensive compliance approaches ranging from light touch interventions such as provider education and targeted letters, through to audits and investigations in the small number of cases where providers are intentionally non-compliant.’

The compliance review will focus on claiming of MBS items 31356 to 31376, and practitioners will be given a month to respond.

“Although this is a voluntary review, Fellows are strongly advised to assess a representative sample of claims, and if satisfied that these are compliant, to advise the Department accordingly and of the percentage of claims reviewed,” the College says.

Dermatologists who are targeted by the Department to conduct a claims review are requested to also notify the College so that they have an idea of how many Fellows are affected

Meanwhile, medical regulators are also warning practitioners to be judicious in use of cryotherapy procedures.

The Medical Council of NSW has released a statement saying that it has recently received a number of serious complaints from patients related to pain and scarring associated with the use of OS cryotherapy.

“The Council’s concerns include failure by practitioners to explain to patients the potential outcomes from the technique, alternative treatment options, and not applying safe and appropriate practice regarding the length and number of freeze-thaw cycles,” the statement says.

Users of cryotherapy are reminded that:

  • The type of lesion  is crucial in determining the dose and number of repeat treatments required.
  • Patients must be informed of potential for pain depending on lesion location, and the possibility of ulceration and scarring.
  • Alternatives such as wart paints, field treatments or excision should be offered.

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