Spine surgeons think dual surgeon teams are best for scoliosis surgery — but most don't use them due to reimbursement: 5 things to know


A new study published in Spine examines scoliosis surgeries performed by single and dual physician teams.


The article is based on research conducted by the Scoliosis Research Society including data from 199 surgeons from 27 different countries. The surgeons answered survey questions on their experiences performing adult scoliosis surgery as a single surgeon or a dual surgeon team. The surgeons reported:


1. Most of the respondents believed two attending surgeons during a scoliosis procedure improved safety and outcomes, and decreased complications.


2. The frequency with which surgeons used the dual attending surgeon model was:


• Less than 25 percent of the time: 67.3 percent
• 51 percent or more of the time: 24.1 percent


3. Half of the respondents that reported having a second attending surgeon felt reimbursement and access concerns limited the dual surgeon team use; 71.9 percent reported difficulty achieving reimbursement for the second surgeon.


4. Nearly three-quarters of the surgeons reported they used a second surgeon for all of the following reasons:


• "it's safer/reduces complications"
• "it decreases operative time"
• "it decreases blood loss"
• "it results in improved outcomes"
• "it's less work and stress for me"


5. More than 67 percent of the patients said they would use a second surgeon more often — or always — if reimbursement was equal or assured for that surgeon.


"Based on the current literature and these results, there is a need for working with third party payers to improve dual surgeon reimbursement rates in complex cases," concluded the study authors.


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