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Well, it is happening. The clinic I work in will be closing its doors soon, partly due to money issues and partly because the physician is retiring, and I am back on the employment search train again. The sad part about this, though the PA I work with is going to try to take as many patients along to the next job (and mine will go with me), is how many physicians won’t take Medicaid anymore. It just doesn’t pay, and the loss of income on each patient, coupled with the impossibility of finding specialists to refer Medicaid patients to, and the restrictions on what we can and can’t order for them, it is not a viable option for a lot of physicians to take Medicaid. On the patients’ side, if they have share of cost, it is often so high, they can’t afford to get healthcare anyway. The whole thing just stinks.

The good news is that there are several options for me and I will not be jobless for long, if at all. The bad news is that things are so up in the air that I haven’t found a lot of emotional space to write in my blog recently, though I did get a new bike, well actually a recumbent trike. An arthritic girl’s best friend! And my dog’s favorite thing, too!

 

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I was in the bathroom at work yesterday, and this poster is hanging on the door.

Really???? What are these idiot politicians thinking of when they dream up this stuff?
And they constantly cut the pay to the providers and then expect them to try to keep up with all of these ridiculous new regulations and rules.

Do they actually believe that all of this stuff is going to improve healthcare, decrease fraud and decrease the cost of healthcare?  Evidently they do:

Check this link: ICD-10 benefits for healthcare providers

Note that the guy writing it, if you even get half of what he is saying, is an IT guy, NOT a healthcare professional. The talk is about “data-driven” patient care. Huh? My patient care is driven by the patient’s needs, not some IT guy’s addiction to data in his little cyber-world. I don’t think that a coding set is going to alter the fact that a laceration that is bleeding all over the place needs to be sutured. Who gives a crap if the cut is caused by a paring knife versus a steak knife. Time is wasted in asking the difference and looking up the code in a set of 140,000 codes.

“The increased auto adjudication of claims due to increased granularity of ICD-10 code will help in reduced number of claims being investigated or rejected due to insufficient information. ” Right. The fact the patient is cut and bleeding is not enough information to pay for a suture job?

The codes are bordering on the ridiculous. I heard stuff I couldn’t believe. Yet, when looking them up, it turns out to be true. Example: Here in Florida, there is the occasional person who gets injured at the beach. Here are the codes for one type of incident:

2012 ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Codes > External causes of morbidity V00-Y99 > Exposure to animate mechanical forces W50-W64>

Contact with nonvenomous marine animal W56- >

Type 1 Excludes

  • contact with venomous marine animal (T63.-)
W56Contact with nonvenomous marine animal
W56.0Contact with dolphin
W56.01Bitten by dolphin
<span class="identifier">W56.01XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.01XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.01XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.01XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.01XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.01XS…… sequela
W56.02Struck by dolphin
<span class="identifier">W56.02XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.02XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.02XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.02XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.02XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.02XS…… sequela
W56.09Other contact with dolphin
<span class="identifier">W56.09XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.09XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.09XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.09XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.09XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.09XS…… sequela
W56.1Contact with sea lion
W56.11Bitten by sea lion
<span class="identifier">W56.11XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.11XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.11XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.11XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.11XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.11XS…… sequela
W56.12Struck by sea lion
<span class="identifier">W56.12XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.12XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.12XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.12XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.12XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.12XS…… sequela
W56.19Other contact with sea lion
<span class="identifier">W56.19XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.19XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.19XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.19XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.19XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.19XS…… sequela
W56.2Contact with orca
W56.21Bitten by orca
<span class="identifier">W56.21XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.21XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.21XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.21XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.21XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.21XS…… sequela
W56.22Struck by orca
<span class="identifier">W56.22XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.22XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.22XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.22XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.22XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.22XS…… sequela
W56.29Other contact with orca
<span class="identifier">W56.29XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.29XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.29XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.29XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.29XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.29XS…… sequela
W56.3Contact with other marine mammals
W56.31Bitten by other marine mammals
<span class="identifier">W56.31XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.31XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.31XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.31XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.31XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.31XS…… sequela
W56.32Struck by other marine mammals
<span class="identifier">W56.32XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.32XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.32XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.32XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.32XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.32XS…… sequela
W56.39Other contact with other marine mammals
<span class="identifier">W56.39XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.39XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.39XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.39XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.39XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.39XS…… sequela
W56.4Contact with shark
W56.41Bitten by shark
<span class="identifier">W56.41XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.41XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.41XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.41XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.41XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.41XS…… sequela
W56.42Struck by shark
<span class="identifier">W56.42XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.42XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.42XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.42XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.42XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.42XS…… sequela
W56.49Other contact with shark
<span class="identifier">W56.49XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.49XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.49XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.49XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.49XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.49XS…… sequela
W56.5Contact with other fish
W56.51Bitten by other fish
<span class="identifier">W56.51XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.51XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.51XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.51XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.51XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.51XS…… sequela
W56.52Struck by other fish
<span class="identifier">W56.52XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.52XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.52XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.52XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.52XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.52XS…… sequela
W56.59Other contact with other fish
<span class="identifier">W56.59XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.59XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.59XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.59XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.59XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.59XS…… sequela
W56.8Contact with other nonvenomous marine animals
W56.81Bitten by other nonvenomous marine animals
<span class="identifier">W56.81XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.81XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.81XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.81XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.81XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.81XS…… sequela
W56.82Struck by other nonvenomous marine animals
<span class="identifier">W56.82XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.82XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.82XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.82XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.82XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.82XS…… sequela
W56.89Other contact with other nonvenomous marine animals
<span class="identifier">W56.89XA</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.89XA…… initial encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.89XD</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.89XD…… subsequent encounter
<span class="identifier">W56.89XS</span> is a billable ICD-10-CM diagnosis codeW56.89XS…… sequela
Do you get paid more to stitch up an killer whale (orca) bite than a sea lion bite? How does this information improve patient care in the future as stated by the panting IT guy? Will there be required signage on a beach that says “Caution: orcas are 19.75% more likely to bite you than dolphins. Stay clear of orcas.”?
ICD-9 codes numbering at 17000 was bad enough, but 144000 is clearly over-the-top.
This one is also so very necessary here in Florida:  2012 ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code V91.07XA: Burn due to water-skis on fire, initial encounter.

According to the poster, every form, every procedure, every contract has to be changed to conform to the new rules. Everyone has to be retrained. I love the part where the coding clerks are required to have “a more detailed knowledge of anatomy and medical terminology”. And the nurses have to “revise or recreate every order”. Sure, they have time for that.

Here is a good one, in light of the fact that the government can’t get its shit together with current new guidelines and hasn’t paid our little clinic yet this year for any Medicare or Medicaid bills we turned in,(also note ICD-10 has been delayed due to its cumbersomeness, but when the government says GO! there can be no delay on your part!). The poster states “changes to software, training, new contracts and paperwork have to be paid for.” By whom? The individual provider, of course.  A report by a Nachimson Advisors Study shows that on average, the costs of transitioning to ICD-10 were as follows: Small practice (3-9 physicians) = $83,000, Medium practice (10-99 physicians) = $285,000, Large practice (100+ physicians) = $2.7 million.

There comes a time in each person’s mind when they are just overwhelmed and stop giving a crap.

This will do it.

And all I want to do is take care of patients. I wish the politicians and IT guys would walk a mile in our shoes.

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Change of venue


After a few months with the GI group, I made the decision (not easy) that it was not the place for me for various reasons, including that a specialty is not as interesting as family practice. The multiple MDs and lack of support in my role of new grad and new employee made for a large amount of stress. I was offered a position in a small rural health clinic nearby which had only one doctor and a PA, and a very friendly staff . Moving jobs was a no-brainer, especially as there is a good possibility that my student loans will get paid off by HRSA.

It seems that sometimes things are not as advertised. The place which seems really great at first, may not be a good fit after all. I suppose in retrospect, that my biggest concerns (the large amount of MDs and the fact that a specialty would require a lot more studying to catch up) were legitimate. The support promised did not materialize, and on top of that I ended up feeling quite alone, as I was in this middle area, not allowed to “socialize” with the staff, and not considered part of the MD inner circle either. Turns out, I was never actually in the loop af

So, now I find myself in a totally different environment, where we all feel like a big family with joking around a bit accepted, and a group of people willing to help each other out and work as a true team. The physician and PA are completely supportive. What a difference! It is nice to hear someone tell you did a good job at the end of the day.

And, being back in a family practice environment is great. Well, I had almost forgotten the “Oh and by the way, I also wanted to talk about…..” after the visit was over and the chart done. I am getting better again at the “well, we can make another appointment for you to go over that.”

I feel so much less anxious and stressed, I might be able to get back into more regular blog posts!

I wish you all a happy new year, and hope that  all of you had a fantastic holiday.

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A moment to reflect


I recently met an 88 year-old survivor of the holocaust. This person survived four different extermination camps as a teenager. The only surviving member of his family. And a cancer survivor as well.

It makes me realize that nothing that could happen to me could even remotely approach the suffering this person faced in their lifetime. And he still smiled and joked with me.

“Humor is what keeps me going.” he said. I shared my favorite joke. He had already heard it, but that was okay, we still laughed together. I didn’t cry until I got home.

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One of the hardest things to do when starting a new job, is to get a handle on the office politics. The difficulty level is higher when there is a large group of physicians, other mid-levels and a large assortment of assistants and office personnel. Add some new services being set up and the mix gets a bit volatile.

I have never been a real political person, so I would have had a real problem with all of this only a few years ago. After the rigors of post-graduate education, and the “Project”, it seems that I have developed some new skills in dealing with the politics, and a higher level of personal confidence. So far, things are going relatively smoothly, and I am learning who the movers and shakers are, how to keep myself in the loop, who are my allies and which people I need to be careful around.

All in all, considering the amount of people in the practice and the sheer amount of patients seen and procedures done, this three-ring circus operates quite smoothly, and I am feeling more comfortable each day in my new role. We are settling into our new community, making new friends and enjoying the outdoor activities and beautiful surroundings we have here. There is a 43 mile long bicycle trail which runs past lakes, parks, and forest near by which we are enjoying each weekend. Life is good.

I need a new bicycle…

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It has been a month since I started my new position. Some days I feel great and other days, I feel totally stupid. Cirrhosis and NASH and the inflammatory bowel diseases are still a bit daunting. The physicians seem to be accepting me now, an are very willing to teach me the nuances of gastroenterology. There was about a week of “let’s see what this chick can do”, where I felt very scrutinized and alone. Evidently, I passed that little test and now I even hear an occasional “good job”.

Yesterday, I walked into an exam room and asked the patient my usual “What brings you here today?” He kind of gave me the stink-eye and said “Oh great, another uninformed health care person”. To which I replied “Sir, I always ask that question so I get a good idea of the patient’s expectations for the visit”.

After looking over his EGD results which showed gastritis and the pathology report which was negative for H Pylori, he asked me what reasons other than H Pylori could cause the gastritis. Seeing aspirin on his med list, I asked how much he was taking. Turned out, it was 325 mg of regular aspirin, because, he said, he heard it was good for you. Further questioning revealed chronic headaches and regular use of ibuprofen, Aleve and aspirin powders.

We discussed all of this, and the plan was to reduce the aspirin to 81mg of enteric coated, and avoid the NSAIDs. Use Tylenol instead, and to follow up on the headaches with his primary care provider.

When the patient left, he thanked me. I guess I didn’t look so uninformed anymore.

It feels good…

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Well, it’s done


I passed the exam. Now all I have to do is wait for the paperwork to be finished and my license to come. Wow. I have a life…we are going to have a beach picnic at sundown to celebrate!

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