A Perspective for 2013
From the Chief Medical Editor Larry E. Patterson, MD
2012 was a rough year
for many of us. For my practice and me it was one of the toughest on several levels.
To begin with, we implemented electronic health records. Despite careful planning and preparation, it turned out to be, by far, the most exhausting and emotionally draining experience of my professional career. While we’ve turned the corner and are close to seeing the number of patients we used to see, it’s still an enormous burden on our staff, in large part because of the governmental mandates that really slow the process down.
As I’ve mentioned before, we use far more paper now than we ever did with paper charts. The cost, including software, hardware, training downtime, and reduced scheduling, has been near catastrophic. I’m looking forward to the promised first EHR bonus from the government soon.
I feel better than some doctors I’ve talked with. A doctor at a very large practice I visited said it was three years before they recovered to their previous patient load. Fortunately, CMS has delayed stage 2 of meaningful use for a year. That gets even more intrusive and costly. No one has a clue yet what stage 3 will bring us.
But that wasn’t all. The IRS decided to audit us — again. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my experience with the IRS is that they love to see doctors. Over and over again. Did I mention the silly, frivolous lawsuit? I’m not allowed to divulge details, but it has nothing to do with the practice of medicine, thankfully. As I write this one of my business partners is being deposed and my own deposition is later this afternoon.
One more thing. I got married two months ago. You see where I’m going.
So this morning I was seeing the second patient of the day. About 40 years ago he developed optic atrophy in his right eye. Five years ago he developed it in his left eye. He now has cataracts and would like surgery to try and get some vision back.
Toward the end of the exam, I looked down and noticed this man was wearing no shoes, only to see it was because he had no feet. I inquired as to what happened. He held up his hands and smiled as he replied, “The same thing that happened to my fingers.” He had no fingers or thumbs, not one. Apparently he had been infected with a nasty bacterium some years ago and the multiple amputations were all that could be done to save his life.
I’ll quit complaining now. Have a joyful and prosperous new year.
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