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Aust Fam Physician. 2002 Sep;31(9):876-80.

Time for care. Length of general practice consultations in Australia.

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  • 1AIHW General Practice Statistics and Classification Unit, University of Sydney, New South Wales.



Past estimates of the length of Australian general practice consultations have been based on Medicare item numbers claimed, which carries probable serious inaccuracies.


To describe the length of general practitioner consultations.


A random sample of 926 GPs recorded the start and finish times in minutes of their consultations for which a Medicare item number was claimed between April 2000 and March 2001, within a continuous cross sectional national study of general practice activity.


Mean length of the consultations was 14.8 minutes (range 1-106). Mean length per GP varied widely (mean of means 14.8, range 3-39, mode 15.0 minutes). Female GPs had significantly longer consultations than males. Younger (< 45 years) male metropolitan GPs had the shortest mean length. Most attendances (85.7%) were designated Level B, 1.5% as Level A, 11.7% Levels C and 1.1% as level D. Mean length of Level A was 7.1 minutes, Level B-13.0, Level C-26.1, and Level D-44.9 minutes.


This study suggests that the majority of GPs are not practising 'six minute medicine', and may assist cost projections of any changes to the Medicare Schedule.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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