It looks like we have company in the form of another virus. Ebola has caused quite a stir in the US and the media is torn between reporting it as a benign little incident so insignificant as to not warrant our attention and predicting Armageddon. With all new viral pathogens, it is difficult to predict. A virus will do what it can to survive and most times that means reducing the severity of the illness so as not to kill its host and prolonging the incubation period. Who knows what Ebola will do.
If 40,000 fatalities from Ebola were predicted this year, there would be mass panic. If there was a preventative measure, who wouldn’t do what they could to get it no matter what the cost?
We are looking at close to 40,000 deaths from flu and pneumonia this year. There are legitimate questions about these statistics such as why are flu and pneumonia lumped together as the 8th leading cause of death? They are not the same disease. To dispel the statistical arguments, lets pretend that only 20,000 deaths will result from the flu this year. Tragically, most cases of the flu are preventable at no cost to most people.
Setting death aside for a minute (or hopefully many years), consider the experience of having the flu. The first day or so, patients are afraid they are going to die. As it reaches its peak, they are afraid they will not die.
We don’t want our patients to feel like that. Many home health patients will end up in the hospital if they get the flu. Hospice patients may be terminal but most have plans to die from something less miserable. It is okay to get between the flu and your hospice patient.
So, while we are panicking about Ebola, let’s keep in mind that there are thousands of lives we can save with a simple flu shot. The CDC has a ton of free resources that you can use in your agency, patient homes, and community to promote vaccination. Most have room for your company logo and the CDC is fine with you adding it. Think about it. When was the last time that the government provided you with professionally designed materials to be used in promoting your agency or hospice?
When we figure out what we can do about Ebola, we’ll post it here. Until then, get out there and stick as many old people with needles as you can. Here are some codes you can include on your care plan if you know upon admission that you will be giving a flu vaccine.
- V03.82 Vaccine for Streptococcus Pneumonia (PPV)
- V04.81 Vaccine for Influenza Virus
- V06.6 Streptococcus pneumoniae [pneumococcus] and influenza
Is anyone qualified to write or help us write a short blog on how to bill for the flu and pneumonia vaccines? Let me know below or by emailing TheCoders@hhcoding.com.