New Year’s thoughts and reflections.

The holidays are times for people to connect with loved ones, including family and friends. I would ask that during this holiday season, please look out for our adolescents.   

In October 2019, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) published an article indicating that suicide is the second-most common cause of death among Americans of ages 15-24. There is no gender or ethnicity that has been spared the high rate of suicide among this age range. 

In the general population, suicide is the 10th-most common cause of death. It is thought that suicide is contributing to the U.S. life expectancy dropping. I believe that if we capture information about the social determinants of health (SDoH), we may be able to get this population the appropriate care they need on a timely basis. Remember that the SDoH can be found in the Z55-Z65 ICD-10-CM codes. The manner of suicide is coded using the External Cause of Morbidity codes.

As we begin to compose our New Year’s resolutions, we should consider preventive medicine. It is time to get the flu shot if you have procrastinated, which is coded as Z23. Influenza incidence has been rising over the last four weeks. This year, influenza B, or Victoria, is most prevalent, followed by A (H1N1) pdm09. The flu was the reason for 3.5 percent of healthcare visits last week.

Screening mammograms are also considerations to make, as we begin to think about 2020. A screening mammogram usually has the co-pay waived by the insurance company. The screening mammogram is assigned code Z12.31. Also, remember that ICD-10-CM was expanded in the 2020 fiscal year to include new codes for unspecified overlapping lumps in right (N63.15) and left (N63.25) breasts. Plan your mammogram today.

Colorectal cancer screening is another preventive treatment that should be considered, as the co-pay is waived by most payors. Updated guidelines by the American Cancer Society state that patients should begin screening at age 45. The rate of colorectal cancer has increased by 51 percent among those younger than age 50 since 1994. Colorectal screening is the only preventive test that can prevent cancer, allowing for the removal of precancerous lesions. Colorectal screening is coded as Z12.11.

One last test is depression screening (Z13.31). There is a three-minute test to detect depression by asking questions of common experiences for people who suffer from depression. After the test is completed, access to mental health treatment information is provided.

It is also important to remember our elderly, who need the gift of time, so remember to stop by and say hello. The youngsters in our life need the gift of being heard, so remember to really listen to what they are saying. The holidays can be very difficult for young and old alike.

I wish you all a very happy holiday season and the happiest New Year.

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