A Pound of Cure
There are so many agencies out there who honestly believe that they will never come under scrutiny. Some think they are too small and others think they are too big and most think they do things the right way. And now they have ADRs and they are not impressed with all my impassioned pleas to do whatever it takes to avoid a denial before ADRs start showing up. Their ounce of prevention wasn’t quite a full ounce and a pound of cure is needed.
It isn’t a coincidence that the worst charts you have were chosen. The MACs and ZPICs are big brother’s younger siblings they are watching. But wait, before you fill out the job application for the Taco Bell position, there may be some things you can do to control damage and ethically increase your odds of getting paid.
- Send the required information to the address on the ADR. The number one reason for denial is that no records were submitted. You may have only a very small chance of getting paid if you send it in but you have no chance of getting paid if it isn’t sent in.
- Look closely at MD signatures. The physician must date his signature. Your date stamp will not suffice to ensure that care plans were in the agency prior to billing. If you find an undated signature, complete an Attestation form and hopefully the physician will have some record of when it was signed in his office. An attestation form is a simple form that basically says the MD will get warts on his or her thighs, suffer from weeping eczema and learn all about same sex marriages in prison if the information on the form is untrue. What you should NEVER do is write a date next to the physician’s signature.
- Look at the Start of Care date. If it is older than 4 months, you better hope that the patient fell down the stairs prior to the episode in question. If not, call every practitioner who saw the patient during that period of time and ask for copies of all lab and clinic notes to see if you can find something there. If the patient allows, you can call their pharmacy and see if there were any meds ordered.
- Look at Homebound documentation. Review the functional and neurological status of the patient and determine if the patient’s documentation supports that the patient is homebound. If the only functional limitation he or she has is the need for a cane and they have no cognitive deficits, it begs the question of why the patient is homebound.
- Write a cover letter. Include a detailed synopsis of why you believe the patient meets criteria for payment. Homebound may be vague so tie it together. Use big words like, ‘the patient is dependent upon cumbersome assist devices for ambulation and suffers frequent pain, urinary incontinence and poor vision which make it difficult to navigate independently outside of the home environment without assistance at all times. He has a recent history of falls and takes multiple medications that can cause intermittent cognitive impairment and unsteady gait. (Or you could say the patient needs a cane, takes Lortab and a sleeping pill and fell over the housecat but where’s the fun in that?
- Collect all information that validates the patient’s condition. Lab for Pernicious anemia may be four months old. Send it anyway. If the patient had a CT of the head and they found a suspicious mass six months ago, send it. Send anything that supports your reports of how ill the patient is.
- Write addendums if required. If your nurse is certain that a particular event occurred but it was not documented, the time to document is NOW. You should never go back and edit notes that are on the clinical records. However, you can write a communication stating that effective on 01/01/2012 the patient had a seizure and went to the ER. There is nothing shady about correcting documentation as long as it is done within ethical guidelines.
- Number your pages. Simple but one problem I continually have is that charts were sent in with interim orders and somehow they are not noticed by the MAC o the ZPICs. If there are page numbers at the bottom of each page, it is easier to convince whomever is reviewing your clinical records that day.
- Keep an exact copy of everything you send. You have no earthly idea how many people do not do this.
- Back out claims for charts that should not have been billed. If your chart is such that it should have never been billed, send it in anyway. Back out the claim, print the screen and attach it to the ADR documentation.
If you get denied, appeal it if you honestly believe it shouldn’t have been paid. If it is a flat loser there is still value from the lessons you can learn from the chart.
We do look at ADRs and denials with more frequency than you could imagine lately. We will be happy to review your records and also write arguments at the appeals level for you. I must advise you that sending us the chart before you send it to the MAC is probably the best sequence of events.
I’m trusting y’all to keep us posted on what is going on out there. Call me at 225-253-4876 or email me at my personal email address.
Great information! Makes you think before you act…
Great help, as usual.
Do you advise to write on the over letter of an ADR a suggestion to them of visiting the patient at home? 🙂
I never, ever advise that you give anyone more than they request. It is very risky to have someone visit a patient at home. Patients are not always in touch with reality, sadly. Years ago, I appealed a denial for a daily wound care patient. On the admission form, this particular agency thought it would be a good idea to ask the patient how often they left the house. The patient told the nurse that he went to the store, church, the barbershop, etc. whenever he felt like it. That was true before he burned his butt and his thigh. He couldn’t go anywhere while his burns/grafts were healing/not healing as the case would change from month to month. Lots of surgeries, etc. But in his mind, he was still independent and after all was said and done, he was very independent once again.
If you tell the patient what the requirements are so they will know to answer questions correctly, they will sound coached. Also, a patient might see someone from the Zone and not knowing them, be less frank about things like pain and incontinence.
If there is no other way to establish homebound criteria, go for it. However, know up front that patients say the darndest things when you least expect it!
The same holds true for employees by the way.