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Patterns of practice of general surgeons in non-metropolitan British Columbia Herdman, John

Abstract

The problem of ensuring efficient use of human resources in the health care field has become of great importance with the complete coverage of the population by publicly funded schemes that has occured in recent years. There have been numerous suggestions for the replacement of physicians by less skilled personnel, and attention has also been paid to the problem of whether physicians practising in a free-enterprise, fee-for-service system make the most desirable use of their skills. This study examines the practices of two groups of British Columbia surgeons. It seeks to determine the size of their operative workloads, and considers factors which may influence the patterns of practice of these surgeons. The workloads are measured in California Relative Value units, using the British Columbia Medical Association fee schedule and Medical Services Commission data as the basis of a computer analysis. It was found that the workloads were at less than a desirable level as this has been defined in the literature, and that some of the general surgeons carry out a considerable amount of subspecialty surgery, and of general practice. The reasons for this are discussed with particular emphasis on the significance of these findings for medical manpower planning. Several possible areas of further research are described. It is believed that these would provide information which is necessary for sound decision making in the health care field.

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