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BMC Fam Pract. 2006 Mar 19;7:18.

A cross sectional survey of urban Canadian family physicians' provision of minor office procedures.

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Department of Family Medicine, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.



A discordance exists between the proportion of Canadian family physicians that we expect should be able to perform minor office procedures and the actual provision of care. This pattern has not been extensively studied. The objective of this study was to determine the current patterns and obstacles relating to the provision of four minor office procedures by GP/FPs in a small city in Ontario, Canada. An additional goal was to determine the impact of the remuneration method on the provision of such services.


A survey was mailed to all GP/FPs practising in Kingston, Ontario. The main outcomes measured in the study were work setting and remuneration method, current procedural practices with respect to four procedures, reasons for not performing procedures, current skill levels, and desire to upgrade.


Surveys were mailed to all 108 GP/FPs in the City of Kingston. Completed surveys were collected for 82 percent (89/108) and 10 were excluded leaving 79 eligible participants. The percentages of GP/FPs who reported performing the procedure were as follows: dermatological excision (63.3%), endometrial biopsy (35.4%), shoulder injection (31.6%), and knee injection (43.0%). The majority of GP/FPs who would not do the procedure themselves would refer to a specialist colleague rather than to another GP/FP. The top reason cited for not performing a specific procedure was "lack of up to date skills" followed by "lack of time". The latter was the only statistically significant difference reported between GP/FPs working in Family Health Networks and GP/FPs working in fee for service settings (26.7% vs 47.0%, chi2 = 4.191 p = 0.041).


A large number of Kingston, Ontario GP/FPs refer patients who require one of four minor office-based procedures for specialist consultation. Referral to other GP/FP colleagues appears underutilized. A perceived lack of up to date skills and a lack of time appear to be concerns. GP/FPs working in Family Health Networks were more likely to perform these procedures themselves. Further studies would clarify the role of changes in medical education, the role of continuing education, and the impact of different remuneration models.

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