Today at the 6th Annual Comp Laude® Conference, one of the sessions was a discussion with bestselling author, Dr. Robert Pearl. Pearl is the author of the book “Mistreated – Why We Think We Are Getting Good Healthcare and Why We're Usually Wrong”. He covered many interesting points regarding the realities of medicine in our “fee for services” world.
One observation was quite poignant, and involved the death of his father. He described getting a call that his father had experienced a health emergency. He and his brother flew to Miami, and at the hospital found what he called “a line of doctors” in the room with his father. He relayed all of the procedures that had been taken by each of these various specialists in the treatment of his father. However, after he and his brother reviewed their father's brain scans, they could see he would not recover, and they requested the cessation of any and all heroic measures.
He told the audience after that point, for the remaining two days of his father's life, they didn't see a single doctor. He bluntly stated that this was “because there are no ICD 9, ICD 10 or CPT billing codes for Compassion.” It was a point we should remember. It is true that doctors are not paid to console, but at times that consolation would be a positive step in the care of a patient.
In workers' compensation, the ability to provide consolation is critical when dealing with the injured worker. They have had a very disruptive event in their lives, and in some cases, will never be restored to the function or vigor they enjoyed prior to their accident. The problem is, no one in workers' comp is paid for compassion. We are all paid for process, instead. That means people of our industry, at times, can go through the technical motions without acknowledging the physical and emotional toll being exacted upon the individual we are tasked to assist. Failing to recognize that emotive element is a critical fail; yet is it something our industry likely does with stark regularity.
As I've written previously, it is an oversight that can cost us dearly.
The irony is, of course, is that compassion can be provided free of charge, simply as an element of our day to day routines. Recognizing the hardship and inconvenience that injured workers are going through should be an easy step to take; it doesn't cost anything and can be handled in the course of normal interactions with them.
I just thought it an interesting concept - doctors are not paid for compassion, and neither is anyone else in the industry. The question for us is how do we develop a system that accommodates and encourages empathy and compassion for the people we treat? How do we incorporate this critical element that is so often absent in our workaday world? The answer lies on our ability to recognize the importance of bio-psychosocial influences on a claimant, and gearing systems to allow for recognition of the personal impact of their accident.
Remembering they are human may also help – even if we are not being compensated to do so.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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Bob is an accomplished speaker for the workers' compensation industry. He is available for conferences, corporate events, children's birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs. You may access his Speakers Brief here.