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The Slice: It’s not why he went to medical school

UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 13, 2017, 5:33 p.m.

Here’s what it’s like to be a doctor now.

A friend who is a local physician had submitted some paperwork to a patient’s medical insurance company.

Before I go any further, I should note that I’m leaving his name out of this not because he requested it (he didn’t), but just because it might spare him some grief. He was a hockey player in Minnesota. He is the opposite of timid.

So anyway, his office submitted the report on a patient’s appointment. Here’s what came back.

First there was a long, and I mean long, paragraph requesting that he “Review, interpret and clarify your documentation for this visit for accurate code assignment.”

Then after listing the patient’s name and date of birth (blacked out on the copy shared with me), it goes on.

“Your office note documents obsesity with a BMI of 37.83 and comorbidities of Hypertension, Hyperlipidemia. Please clarify, if you can, if these findings support the diagnosis of:

“(Please check your selection)

“___ Simple Obesity

“___ Severe Obesity

“___ Other type of Obesity, please specify: _______

“___ Unknown type of Obesity”

My friend stared at this. He blinked a few times and contemplated the insurance company’s concept of obesity. Unknown type of obsesity?

“This is madness,” he said. “This is about as dumb as anything I have ever seen.”

But everything must have a code, to paraphrase Omar from “The Wire.”

Filling out that kind of head-scratching paperwork is is not why my friend became a doctor. He wanted to help people. Still does. But there’s no code for that.

Slice answers: Mike Storms saw the northern lights once when he was delivering newspapers early one subzero morning here in Spokane. “It was almost 60 years ago, and I can still see it in my mind.”

Esther Gilchrist of Cocolalla, Idaho, saw them in their full glory as a sixth-grader in northern New Jersey.

Don Vicena saw them on a nightly basis while at an air base north of the Arctic Circle in Norway.

Kris Kittelson recalls seeing them on a camping trip to Curlew Lake.

Bruce Au saw them many times from the air while in the Air Force.

Steve LaCombe and Jeannie Maki witnessed the phenomenon in Alaska.

And a reader named Michael noted that Northern Lights is the name of his favorite brand of marijuana. He sees it regularly.

Today’s Slice question: If you had to guess, what percentage of Spokane men wear shirts without collars 99 percent of the time?

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Coeur d’Alene’s Lisa Thompson said the answer to one recent Slice question is “snowballs.”

Tags: The Slice

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