Volume 52 | Number 1 | February 2017

Abstract List

Lane F. Burgette Ph.D., Andrew W. Mulcahy Ph.D., Ateev Mehrotra M.D.,M.P.H., Teague Ruder M.A., Barbara O. Wynn M.A.


The median time required to perform a surgical procedure is important in determining payment under Medicare's physician fee schedule. Prior studies have demonstrated that the current methodology of using physician surveys to determine surgical times results in overstated times. To measure surgical times more accurately, we developed and validated a methodology using available data from anesthesia billing data and operating room () records.

Data Sources

We estimated surgical times using Medicare 2011 anesthesia claims and New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System 2011 times. Estimated times were validated using data from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. We compared our time estimates to those used by Medicare in the fee schedule.

Study Design

We estimate surgical times via piecewise linear median regression models.

Principal Findings

Using 3.0 million observations of anesthesia and times, we estimated surgical time for 921 procedures. Correlation between these time estimates and directly measured surgical time from the validation database was 0.98. Our estimates of surgical time were shorter than the Medicare fee schedule estimates for 78 percent of procedures.


Anesthesia and times can be used to measure surgical time and thereby improve the payment for surgical procedures in the Medicare fee schedule.