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The Whistleblower

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The Whistleblower
Photo caption:  Dr. Kim Ervin, now of Open Door Community Health Centers, has worked as a local OBGYN for 30 years.

While it may not have been obvious to those outside the healthcare industry, Ervin’s arrival at Mad River in the spring of 2017 was a big deal. The hospital sent out a press release announcing the hiring of Ervin and two other providers that contained a quote from hospital CEO Doug Shaw praising them as “dynamic professionals” whose “expertise, insight and experience” would benefit the hospital. […]

For her part, Ervin says the real trouble began in late 2018, when she volunteered to become the hospital’s chief of surgery, a role she took on in addition to her work in the women’s clinic. Shortly after assuming the position, Ervin started to hear from hospital staff who were frustrated with some surgeons’ refusal to use the hospital’s electronic medical records system. “I didn’t go to them,” she says. “They came to me.” To be sure, Ervin says the system — CPSI — was a headache. […] While some electronic records systems include prompts — essentially an artificial intelligence function that will suggest billing codes, procedures and follow up instructions when you type in a diagnosis — CPSI does not. It’s clunky, she says, and more difficult to navigate than others. But in Ervin’s mind, that in no way made it OK for surgeons to simply refuse to use the thing, instead leaving nurses and other staff to decipher their handwritten notes and enter them into the system after the doctor had gone home or moved on to their next patient. That was inefficient and — she says — dangerous, leaving too much room for error. After all, she quips, have you ever tried reading a doctor’s handwriting? But it wasn’t just the electronic side of things that was lacking in some cases. Ervin says some surgeons’ handwritten notes were inadequate for today’s reality in which insurance companies require every chargeable service to be documented in a patient’s file. If a physician fails to justify a patient staying another night in their chart notes, the insurance company will refuse to cover the night, Ervin says. “Sadly, it’s a game you have to play with insurance companies,” she says. “All these little things matter.” […]

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