The unmentionably difficult burden of a new MDS Section frightened and appalled all of us last October. Section GG turned out to be not that scary, and not that difficult. As physical and occupational therapists will attest, the newest Section of the MDS was met with a resounding “meh.” It should be business as usual.

Therapy evaluations typically require us to document the same questions that Section GG requires, such as:

  • Eating independence
  • Oral Hygiene
  • Toilet transfer
  • Walking with turns
  • Wheelchair propulsion with turns

Though not all the items that GG covers, these are pivotal for any PT or OT evaluation, right? Then why is it so difficult to get therapists to comply and get it done?

There are several reasons (and I’m speaking for myself), and sometimes we just forget. Because it hasn’t been part of my experience until recently, I frequently cannot remember to add that portion to the documentation. However, it’s not a big deal and not a timekiller to enter it late. Better late than never.

But what about when you contract with XYZ Therapy Agency, and they have an unrealistic expectation of productivity for their staff? Are they going to be able to help you with your Section GG in a timely and accurate manner? There are therapy companies that require their employees to reach 90-95% every day and every week. They don’t have time for your extraneous documentation even if it is federally required.

I speak from experience when I say that it has been my embarrassing and unreasonable duty to discipline excellent employees who did not reach the expected level of productivity. Many of these employees were not eligible for salary increases due to productivity concerns, so the therapists’ concerns were financial too. As a result of the hard push by agencies to make every minute billable, the therapists who otherwise perform well and get good outcomes from their patients don’t have the time for the MDS.

I recently heard of a therapy company who refused to assist with GG. Refused. Who pays them? They work for you, and if their pot of gold (or even silver) is at the end of your rainbow, the rainbow is paved with required documentation that will get your facility paid. The therapy agency that you employ must be made aware of and fulfill the requirements of your facility. If you don’t get paid, they don’t get paid.

Every October is a new challenge, a new regulation, a new requirement. We are nothing if not adaptable. Your contract with your therapy company needs to state that their employees must adhere to and comply with all the documentation requirements of your facility, and that includes the MDS. There is no one in your healthcare center who is more qualified to deliver accurate and complete information about Section GG. Talk with your agencies and get them on board.

Jean Wendland Porter, PT, CCI, is the Regional Director of Therapy Operations at Diversified Health Partners in Ohio.