May 16, 2016 | | Comments 22
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The passing of an industry great

Dr. Robert S. Gold

Dr. Robert S. Gold

Robert S. Gold, 1942-2016 

If you’ve ever read an issue of HCPro’s flagship newsletter Medical Records Briefing … if you’ve ever picked up an issue of Briefings on Coding Compliance Strategies and turned to the column “Clinically Speaking”… if you’ve been a regular listener of HCPro’s HIM or CDI audio conferences or webinars… if you’re a member of the Association of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (ACDIS) and subscribe to the CDI Talk newsgroup or listened to an ACDIS quarterly conference call, chances are you’ve encountered the phenomenon known as Robert Gold, MD.

For the better part of 20 years Dr. Gold has been a fixture in the HCPro and the ACDIS community, authoring countless articles, several handbooks, and speaking on numerous webcasts and audio conferences. He served two terms on the ACDIS advisory board, helping ACDIS get off the ground by serving as an inaugural board member from 2007-2010.

Last week his one of a kind voice was silenced. Dr. Gold lost a battle with cancer that began last year, passing away at the age of 74. We’re all saddened by his loss, and the coding and CDI communities are greatly diminished by it.

A graduate of Hahnemann Medical College, Dr. Gold trained in general surgery in the U.S. Navy where he spent his professional career as a practicing surgeon. After leaving the service, he worked as a consultant in the fields of managed care medicine, locum tenens, home health, hospital accreditation and licensure. Later Dr. Gold co-founded DCBA, Inc. (short for Documentation Coding and Billing Accuracy). There he quickly gained a reputation as a consultant who married clinical knowledge with coding expertise. His clinical acumen, knowledge of medical coding and billing, and easy, engaging manner allowed him to bridge the gap between healthcare delivery and the business of medicine. And he did it with his own unique, caring, personal, and inimitable style.

I had a chance to watch Dr. Gold at work a couple years ago. He was in town near our home office on assignment at Beverly Hospital and invited me to pay him a visit. There I got to see him work with a small CDI team as they reviewed patient charts together on the floor. He was a patient, engaging teacher, asking questions of the CDI nurses about the nature of the patients they were seeing and encouraging them to use their critical thinking skills through a series of probing questions.

I learned a lot that day about what CDI specialists do and the difficult detective work it takes to ferret out diagnoses and comorbidities, drawing inferences from physicians’ clinical decision making and often from incomplete and imprecise documentation.  But I also learned a lot about Dr. Gold.

With the news of his passing several tributes and remembrances made their way into our inboxes. Here is just a sampling:

Dr. Gold challenged us to look through another lens, and with that, he helped us grow. He will forever be remembered. 

Karen Newhouser, RN, BSN, CCM, CCDS, CCS, CDIP, Director of Education, MedPartners

Certainly a legacy! A man that has challenged, inspired, and directed CDI to capturing the nature of clinical care. Always motivating change! He will be missed, but remembered.

–James Fee, MD, CCS, CCDS, Vice President, Enjoin

Dr. Gold was excellent with people. He never talked down to anyone. He helped doctors think outside the box.

–Lamar Blount, President, American Benefit Advisors (ABA) & Health Law Network (HLN)

Dr. Gold has been a ‘legend’ in the industry, always deeply concerned about ‘getting the correct diagnosis’ reported, and calling it like he saw it. I did not always agree with his final views, but I always knew where he stood, and for that, I admired his convictions, dedication and passion. Few were as passionate or dedicated as he…several times he called me in order to discuss various issues. I have to say I was impressed that he would care so much to reach out to a me, a person he did not really know. May he rest in peace.

–Paul Evans, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, CCDS, Manager, Regional Clinical Documentation, Sutter West Bay


Robert Gold

Robert Gold

Right up to the end Dr. Gold was deeply involved in the healthcare industry. He was due to present at the ACDIS conference next week. At the time of his passing he had been working with the ICD-10 Coordination and Maintenance Committee to fix some ongoing cardiology issues in ICD-10, including proposals he had put forth to break down heart failure into right, left and biventricular, add HFrEF and HFpEF as alternate phrases for systolic and diastolic (now passed), stratify New York Heart Association heart failure classes, add end stage heart failure, and reclassify atrial fibrillation. He had irons in the fire at AHA Coding Clinic, seeking clarification on what he saw as imperfections in the marriage of medical codes with clinical practice. He was writing to me, and to current ACDIS Advisory Board members, regarding suggestions for reconciling current ICD-10 limitations with the newly released definitions of sepsis and septic shock.

For those that got to know Dr. Gold he revealed himself as a caring, compassionate, big-hearted man underneath his occasionally gruff exterior. On a couple occasions he invited our CDI boot camp instructors out to his home in Atlanta to see his gardens and his extensive baseball card collection. He loved Halloween and each year decorated his home with an awesome, sprawling display of ghosts, goblins, and ghouls, delighting thousands of neighborhood children.

Dr. Gold cared about the clinical truth. He cared about medical codes and the powerful truths they can convey when reported with accuracy. But most of all he cared about people. And for that, we’ll miss him.

Farewell Dr. G.

Brian Murphy
Director, ACDIS

Read Dr. Gold’s obituary online: . Per the obituary, In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Winship Cancer Foundation at Emory or planting trees in Israel in his memory are fitting honors.

Entry Information

Filed Under: ACDIS

Brian Murphy About the Author: Brian Murphy, CPC, is director of the Association of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (ACDIS). Brian is also an executive editor in the revenue cycle division of ACDIS’ parent company HCPro, Inc.

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  1. You will be forever missed and always remembered. A man of great wisdom, kindness, and compassion for getting things right and doing the right thing.

  2. One final query we need help with Dr. Gold, How do you mend broken hearts?

    Sympathy to the family!

  3. My heart goes out to all that knew him well. I admired him for wealth of insight, information, and candid presentation. I have always looked forward to his presentation of information. I shall miss learning from him.

  4. I’m devastated. I’m so glad I’ve been privileged to meet such an amazing, devoted, sweet man. I’ll be putting the picture of him and us at the ACDIS conference in Vegas on my desk to remember such a great, great man. We’ll miss you from Denver, Dr. G….

  5. Eternal rest grant unto Dr. Gold, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

  6. My prayers to Dr. Gold’s family. He was an extraordinary man who lead a great initiative in CDI as in anything he did. Dr. Gold never met a stranger. He will be missed so greatly in our CDI community.

  7. I’m completely at a loss for words. Dr. Gold was such an amazing advocate, not only for CDI as a profession but for doing what was right regarding documentation from all perspectives. Thankfully I had the privilege to meet him on multiple occasions and gain just a bit of the vast knowledge he possessed. He will be truly missed by so many.

  8. This is truly a sad day in the CDI forum! We will miss him, his knowledge, and his insightful contributions. Rest in peace Dr. Gold.

  9. Such a great loss for the CDI world. He was a great reference and support of CDI.
    Rest in peace Dr. Gold from a job well done…..

  10. So sad to hear the news today. Dr. Gold was such a help to all of our coders and CDI. We could ask him easy or hard questions and he never looked down on us for our knowledge base, whether it was a beginner coder or a long standing DRG coder. He will be greatly missed.

  11. Dr. Gold was a unexpected treasure to the Health Care Community and should always be remembered as such.
    I send out continued prayers for Dr. Gold’s family, his friends, colleagues, and for all of us who are saddened by his passing.

  12. We lost an ambassador in the CDI industry today. Dr. Gold was the brightest star and his contributions will not go unnoticed. Even though he is gone he shared every God given talent with a whole industry and for that I am grateful to have benefited #DrG_RIP

  13. Dr Gold was a wonderful colleague and peer plus he was a great friend. We’d email each other and chat about documentation challenges and coding and he always had time to give a response and or advice. Dr Gold was kind and understanding as well; as a copresenter he was always respectful
    . As so many have said already he will be SO missed! Gloryanne bryant

  14. So very sorry to hear of the passing of Dr Gold. A man of strong opinions and evidence to back them up! I owe him much in my initial education of CDI. I will miss him and offer my condolences to his children and his wife.

  15. Dr. Gold was a great asset in CDI world. I’ve learned so much by just reading his articles. My condolence and prayers to his family.

  16. So saddened by Dr. Gold’s passing. I’ve learned so much from him and will truly miss reading his articles, listening to his lectures or webinars, etc. RIP & Thank you!

  17. I had the great privilege of working for Dr. Gold. He ran DCBA like a family and for that I will be eternally grateful. He was passionate about CDI and an enthusiastic teacher. With his passing there has been a great disturbance in the Force! Farewell my friend and rest in peace.

  18. I am saddened to hear of Dr. Gold’s passing. I learned a lot from his articles and presentations. We have lost a great resource. My condolences and prayers for his family

  19. I am so very, very saddened to hear of Dr. Gold’s passing. My heart goes out to all of his family, friends and co-workers. Our CDI community has lost such a tremendous leader and mentor. What a legacy he has provided for all of us who had the pleasure to get to know him, work with him or be taught CDI from his expertise. I was trained by Dr. Gold and he opened up a new world to me with CDI and coding. I am grateful for the opportunity to have learned the CDI world under his tutelage. I always remember how he told us the documentation should “Paint the Rembrandt”. I will always remember Dr. Gold as priceless in life as a Rembrandt.

  20. I was fortunate to know Dr. Gold and email with him and meet with him at times regarding CDI challenges. I also got to know several of the incredible team members he brought together at DCBA. Dr. Gold was a terrific educator and leader in this field and he did it because he knew that ultimately it would help patients and the caregivers that help them. I am awed by his courage to stay engaged right up to his passing. He will be missed!

  21. Your post brought real tears to my eyes. How do you mend a broken heart, indeed! Is there a code for that? (We all know there is).

  22. Such a sad loss for the world of CDI. I had the opportunity to reach out to Dr. Gold on a number of occasions, and he was always very gracious to answer my questions and to clarify information even though I was not a client. I have enjoyed his articles, and discussion boards and his ability to teach you, not just provide the answer. He will be missed, and his family are in my thoughts and prayers.

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