Saturday, August 2, 2014

Struck by a Duck by Dave LeSueur

Another hilarious column by our alumni, Dave LeSueur!


Have you noticed how difficult it has become to make an appointment with your doctor? When you call, you get a recorded message that always begins “If this is a medical emergency, please hang up and dial 911.” This is for people who call the doctor’s office because they can’t remember the phone number for 911. Then it will say “Please listen carefully to the following options, as they have recently changed.” Five minutes later you finally get to “Press 5 to make an appointment “ – and they put you on hold.

This happened to me yesterday, and while I was on hold I began thinking about “the phone options which have recently changed.” I also called for an appointment last week. Have they changed since then? How often do you change them? Why do you change them? Who decides to change them? Did you hire a sadistic assistant (who has read Fifty Shades of Grey more than a dozen times) to randomly change the options just to mess with us? Who is this assistant and where does he live? Does he have any pets? When I am irritated and on hold, I can go to a very dark place.

The good news is that soon no one in the doctor’s office will have time to change the phone options. They will be too busy learning the medical codes of ICD-10, a new medical classification reference. The doctor uses these codes to record why you were treated (ear infection, kidney stone, etc.).The government decided there were too many situations not covered by the current codes and is increasing the number of codes from about 15,000 to 150,000! Most of the changes make sense, but some of the new codes are very odd. Here are some examples.

W61.62XD: Struck by duck, subsequent encounter. (As one blogger pointed out, maladies that rhyme should be given immediate priority in the ER. I believe the rhyming section of the medical codes was written by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.)

W55.32XA: Struck by other hoof stock, initial encounter. (In case grandma got run over by a reindeer.)
W55.41XA: Bitten by pig, initial encounter​. (That’s what you get for eating a ham sandwich in a pigpen.)
W62.0XXA: Contact with non-venomous frogs. (Usually involves girls looking for handsome princes.)
V91.07XD: Burn due to water skis on fire, subsequent encounter​. (Wouldn’t the water prevent a fire? Owner’s manuals now include a warning “not to ride on water skis that are on fire.”)
V95.43: Spacecraft collision injuring occupant. (If the other spacecraft is being driven by an illegal space alien, you’d better hope you have uninsured motorist coverage.)
V97.33XD: Sucked into jet engine, subsequent encounter. (How does this even happen? And how many subsequent encounters can you have with a jet engine before you’re dead?)
Y93.D: Activities involving arts and handcrafts. (This code was just added because of injuries happening to protesters trying to block employees from entering Hobby Lobby stores. Most of the injuries involved crochet needles or hot glue guns.)
S10.87XA: Other superficial bite of other specified part of neck, initial encounter. (The technical term for this injury is a “hickey”.)
G44.82: Headache associated with sexual activity. (Not tonight honey, I have a code G44.82.)
W22.02XD: Walked into lamppost, subsequent encounter. (This happens when dumb people use smart phones)
V80.731: Occupant of animal-drawn vehicle injured in collision with streetcar. (This is how you know the universe is against you.)
Y92.146: Swimming pool of prison as the place of occurrence of the external cause. (Wait – they have swimming pools in prisons?)
Y92.241: Library as the place of occurrence of the external cause. (For some reason, no University of Colorado student has ever been injured in a library.)
Y92.253: Opera House as the place of occurrence of the external cause. (Opera patrons can get rowdy if the opera is already four hours long and it still ain’t over even though the fat lady has sung.)
Y23.1 Hunting rifle discharge, undetermined intent (The “Dick Cheney’ code.)
R46.1: Bizarre personal appearance. (The “Lady Gaga” code.)
I believe doctors will eventually like ICD-10. Under the old system there were too many situations not covered by a code.

For example, last fall, I had an appointment to get a flu shot at the Doctor’s office. I parked my car and started walking toward his building. All of a sudden, a duck darted out of the bushes and ran into my leg. I tripped and fell, hitting my head on a post. My hair and clothes were a mess, but I went into his office anyway.

“Hi,” I said. “I am here to get a flu shot, but now I think I need to see the Doctor too.”

The receptionist looked at me. “What happened?”

“Well,” I said, “I was struck by a duck and walked into a lamppost.”

A nurse leaned over and whispered to the receptionist “He certainly has a bizarre personal appearance. I don’t know how we’ll ever code this one.”

David LeSueur lives in Littleton Colorado with his wife, Mary. Their yard is full of bunnies and squirrels, but no ducks.


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