Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Eating too many doughnuts

In a world in which just about everyone uses a computer to do business, we all rely on gathering data  and then using some kind of coding system to classify and summarize the data.  This creates information that we use to make decisions.

An updated coding system monster recently “hit the streets” that will greatly impact our lives.

Our federal government now requires health care professionals to use the World Health Organization’s updated medical diagnosis coding system.  It's named the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision.  In the world where it’ll be used, ICD-10 is how it'll be known.

It’s an updated and very comprehensive list of classifying diseases, signs and symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or diseases.

There are now over 70,000 diagnostic codes for our health care system to use in creating an addition to our permanent health care records of what’s medically-wrong with you and me.  That’s a five-fold increase from the old system which had a mere 14,000 diagnostic codes.

There’s so much more variety available for our medical doctors to diagnose our “gone to the dogs” health.  General medical diagnoses will no longer get the job done for our dear doctor who must now conclude with a very specific medical diagnosis like “calling a spade a spade.”

This middle-aged man believes we need to take a more vested interest as a result of this new encyclopedia of medical diagnosis codes out of fear of being branded with a condition that can scar our medical records for life.  

In some cases, an error in labeling us with a false medical diagnosis code may be more damaging than the ailment itself.  Furthermore, getting an incorrect medical diagnosis code off our medical records may be harder than us getting well from the ailment. 

Factors like the high-volume of patients a modern medical doctor is required to see in a day, health insurance reimbursement economics and research motives of special interest funding sources such as the pharmaceutical industry create enormous potential for carelessness and false medical diagnosis coding in our health care records.    

This new medical diagnosis coding “monster” joins another scary creature known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 as it’s known my mental health professionals) produced by the American Psychiatric Association.

So while you and I may be considered “ordinary average citizens” by our elite political leaders and those who want to be one – i.e. candidates for President for example – there’s no longer such an “ordinary average” medical diagnosis available for you and me on those days we just don’t feel well. 

We’ll have to be branded with some condition much more specific.  I’m not sure what this is and worry that a hurried 10-minute visit to our medical doctor now facing this monstrosity of a medical diagnosis coding system may sometimes not know either.

Let’s make sure we’re on guard once the doctor’s office visit paperwork is completed.  Ask to see a copy of it, read it, zero in on the medical diagnostic code that has been “etched in stone” in our medical records and ask questions, disagree and protest with anything not seeming correct. 

This middle-aged man does plan on eventually taking a peek at this new ICD-10 bible to learn more about the specificity of these 14,000 plus codes.

One newspaper article about the new ICD-10 shared about how the codes are so specific that they have become the subject of much humor among those who have studied it.  For example, one code is for relationship problems with your in-laws while another is for being bitten by an orca. 

I’m sure when I eventually study this new ICD-10, I’ll learn about an onslaught of very specific diagnostic codes applicable to middle-aged men describing their very-specific and unique medical ailments.

Like being a middle-aged man fatso caused from eating too many doughnuts.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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