Don’t Always Blame the Guys at the Top
VETERANS POST by Freddy Groves
At a Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility, a psychologist by the name of “Z” managed to find a way to increase income by overstating productivity by 43 percent.
This was done via double coding. Say the appointment with a patient should be classified as 123. The psychologist would code it as 123 and additionally as 456 ... meaning Z would appear to have done more work. Z averaged 15 hours of actual work in a 40-hour workweek yet managed to accrue payments for 243 hours of overtime.
Appointments were done on Z’s personal planner, not the computer where they could be noticed. They were entered in the computer only after the appointments.
Z was caught and claimed that the double coding was per the instruction received in initial VA training, yet Z didn’t attend seven of the eight training sessions on coding. Further, it was in none of the training materials and the other psychologists were not given that instruction.
The punishment? Make Z go to coding class. No administrative steps were taken, no firing, no apparent reimbursement of the overpayments.
The chief of psychology was dragged into it for failing to supervise the coding and the hours Z actually worked. The chief of health information management was pulled into the mess for failing to oversee coding reviews, which would have caught the errors, claiming she didn’t know of the requirement.
It gets better. The chief of medical administration and the assistant chief didn’t know those review duties existed.
It gets even better. The medical center’s director wasn’t aware that coding reviews weren’t being done.
How many layers is that? The medical center director is effectively supposed to do the job of all those underlings?