Physician Health

Do these 10 myths drive physician burnout in your organization?

Kevin B. O'Reilly , Senior News Editor

AMA News Wire

Do these 10 myths drive physician burnout in your organization?

May 1, 2024

One of the biggest drivers of physician burnout are the clerical burdens that gobble up more than half of doctors’ days—and many nights and weekends to boot. Perhaps the most galling part is that a notable chunk of these burdens are based on outright myths, misconceptions and misapplications of the morass of complicated regulations that govern American health care.

The AMA is advocating for you

The AMA has achieved recent wins in 5 critical areas for physicians.

That is where the AMA’s “Debunking Regulatory Myths” series comes in to provide clarity to physicians and their care teams. The series is part of the AMA’s practice-transformation efforts and helps reduce guesswork and administrative burdens so physicians’ focus can be on streamlining clinical workflow processes, improving patient outcomes and increasing satisfaction.

Reducing physician burnout is a critical component of the AMA Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians.

Far too many American physicians experience burnout. That's why the AMA develops resources that prioritize well-being and highlight workflow changes so physicians can focus on what matters—patient care.

So far, the AMA has set the record straight on more than 20 regulatory myths, including these 10 below. Explore further to learn whether your practice, hospital or health system can find some new ways to save physicians’ time while staying on the regulatory straight and narrow.

  1. No, primary care physicians don’t need to review all test results

    1. Primary care physicians often get copied on emails of test results for each individual test that other physicians order for their mutual patients. The resulting alerts overwhelm inboxes, contribute to burnout and hinder physicians’ ability to easily access the information that is pertinent. So, does a patient’s primary care physician really need to receive—and then review—every test result a patient has? Learn why this is a myth.
  2. Do medical boards have to probe doctors’ mental health history?

    1. Physicians and other health professionals filling out applications often encounter questions from medical licensing boards, credentialing bodies and professional liability insurance carriers about any past history of mental illness or substance-use disorder. It turns out that The Joint Commission—which accredits hospitals and other health care organizations—and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) does not require that states, hospitals, insurers or others ask about this history.
  3. Drop the pen. Doctors don’t have to sign every page of a home care plan.

    1. Physicians often hear conflicting instructions on how they should sign a home health agency plan of care certification or recertification, sometimes being told they need to sign and date every single page of the document. But does the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) really require physicians to take the time to go to those administrative lengths? The short answer is no.
  4. Can ancillary staff document parts of E/M services?

    1. Yes, they can. That is because CMS does not require physicians to redocument information in a patient’s record that has already been documented by practice staff or by patients themselves.
  5. No, hospitals don’t have to send event notifications to doctors

    1. Physicians are familiar with the inbox influx: A host of messages from hospitals or other health care entities where their patients received care. Often the messages are redundant or have incomplete information. Many believe that Medicare-participating hospitals are required to deliver electronic patient event notifications directly to a physician’s EHR inbox—but that’s just a myth.
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  6. Are you required to ask about patients' pain at every consult?

    1. No, The Joint Commission does not require physicians to ask every patient about their pain at every visit.  An earlier requirement that “pain be addressed in all patients” was rescinded in 2009 from all programs except behavioral health.
  7. Yes, you can bill E/M and preventive care from the same visit

    1. Despite myths to the contrary, physicians are not prohibited from coding and billing for both preventive and problem-focused evaluation and management (E/M) services when they are performed during the same appointment.
  8. Speak up, because verbal orders are not prohibited in health care

    1. Some physicians and health systems operate under the assumption that federal health care policy and regulatory agency rules prohibit them from giving verbal orders. However, to the AMA’s knowledge, CMS and The Joint Commission do not prohibit verbal orders from being used.
  9. No, teaching doctors do not need to redocument student EHR work

    1. Historically, teaching physicians were required to redocument medical students’ entries in a patient’s electronic health record. But they don’t have to do that anymore.
  10. Is chronic care management consent required regularly?

    1. There are some physicians who believe that the CMS requires them to obtain patient consent at regular intervals to continue to bill for ongoing chronic care management services. But it is a myth. The truth is that CMS does not require physicians, other health professionals or health care organizations to obtain patient consent for chronic care management that is done on a regular, recurring schedule.

Delve even further with the complete list of AMA-debunked regulatory myths.

Also, find out more with the “AMA Debunking Medical Practice Regulatory Myths Learning Series,” which is available on AMA Ed Hub™ and provides regulatory clarification to physicians and their care teams. For each topic completed, a physician can receive CME for a maximum of 0.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

Physicians can submit questions or ideas they have about regulatory myths by emailing the Debunking Regulatory Myths team. The team will do research to clarify the matter. If something turns out not to be a myth and really is a regulation that puts unnecessary burden on physicians and their teams, the AMA’s advocacy arm can get involved to push for regulatory change.

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