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General Surgery Coding Alert

Reader Question:
Expect Significant Time for Assistant Surgeon

Question: When we have an assistant surgeon from our practice scheduled to assist the primary surgeon from the same group, is the assistant required to be present for the entire procedure? If not, is there a strict guideline stating how long the assistant must be present in order to bill for the service? Washington Subscriber Answer: No, the assistant does not need to be present for the entire procedure, nor is there a strict time guideline for reporting assistant surgeon services. That said, there is an expectation that the assistant would be present for the majority of the case, or for multiple procedures, at least the majority of the procedure that involves the assistant. Check status: The Medicare Physician Fee Schedule provides an indicator to let you know if you're allowed to bill for an assistant surgeon for a given procedure. A \"2\" indicator means that payment for an assistant [...]