Dermatology over-servicing

I have a very dear gentleman friend who is almost 89 years of age. Whilst he is Caucasian he is not so fair skinned that he is anymore susceptible to damage to his skin from exposure to sunlight than myself, being red-haired…

As background to this story I have had in excess of 15 melanomas surgically removed since 1983, mostly by my GP, the latest in 2017 and 2018 however that were graded levels 4 and 5 on my scalp which were serious and involved 2 sizeable skin grafts. It also led to being referred to an oncologist who treated me every fortnight for 2 years at Icon Care with the a very effective immunotherapy medication: Nivolumab. I have not had a single melanoma since, and only two minor BCCs that my GP removed with liquid nitrogen.

Back to my friend…he has been going to a dermatologist for over 20 years and has had countless skin lesions surgically removed, sometimes requiring skin grafts. Not a single one of these has been malignant, and on his most recent visit to his specialist surgically removed a number of small ‘scabby warty things’ that left a scar of 15 cm on his arm.

My friend has taken all of this in his stride, he is quite wealthy so the thousands of dollars he has spent with this skin cancer clinic are of no concern to him. But at this late stage of hs life his skin is extremely thin so that with the slightest knock or scratch he bruises quickly. His arms legs and upper parts of his body are a patchwork of scars and his scalp looks like a Ukrainian city bombed by the Russians, dozens of ulcerated, weeping little scabs and lesions which means he has to always wear a cap.

I know from personal experience that when my plastic surgeon in 2017 recommended I consult a dermatologist rather than rely on my GP, in the nine months that I attended that practice (3 visits) they surgically removed a total of 4 skin lesions that were all benign, but set me back over $300 each time - procedures that my GP had in the past bulk-billed!!

I hope CHOICE can do some research into the ‘skin cancer’ industry, the last one was in 2014, with emphasis on the aspect of over-servicing because quite frankly, there are some that are most definitely ripping their elderly patients off…


I agree. We are encouraged to have regular skin/mole checks by our GPs, yet apparently they can only be done during a special appointment at a cost of several hundred dollars rather than in a regular-cost appointment.
Related to dermatology over-servicing: my GP used to be able to treat rosacea and other medical skin conditions in-house using laser without cost, since for medical issues it was Medicare-rebateable. Then they changed to a purpose-built fancy skin clinic, and the same treatment now costs many hundreds of dollars, putting it out of reach of many.
It feels as though they are no longer interested in treating medical issues and have bought into the lucrative cosmetic ‘therapy’ market, leaving many genuine patients high and dry in favour of anti-ageing and skin ‘rejuvenation’ treatments.

Glad to hear that you agree wth my post Guitarfish. Fortunately my GP is happy to continue to check my skin every 3 months and sends me a reminder when that is due. In the event that he finds something that looks dicey he’ll either simply freeze it off or remove it surgically with a local anaesthetic and send it to a pathology lab for examination.

Given the massive increase in health budgets at both federal and state levels maybe ACA will lead a push to apply the blowtorch to dermatologists inorder to identify those who are rorting the system at great expense to patients and Medicare!

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