The task of assigning the appropriate present on admission (POA) indicator for various conditions is still fraught with a number of challenges—many of which stem from problems coders have in obtaining clear, explicit physician documentation. Colleen Stukenberg, MSN, RN, CCDS, CMSRN, and Donna D. Wilson, RHIA, CCS, CCDS, discuss how gleaning the necessary details from the records can be a daunting task in and of itself, and then inconsistencies among various physicians makes assigning POA indicators that much harder.
A coder can be misled when coding directly from an encoder, and heavy dependence on one can ultimately affect a coder’s skill set. Glenn Krauss, BBA, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, CPUR, FCS, PCS, C-CDIS, CCDS, explains that a critical limitation of encoders is that they cannot physically reason. This inability to deduce often contributes to inaccurate ICD-9-CM code assignment at the expense of clinical accuracy in the reporting of disease processes, not to mention potential reimbursement and measures of continuity of care post-hospitalization.
Just when you thought you had your RAC processes in place, more changes appear on the horizon. CMS wasn't shy about making changes to the Medicare RAC program in 2011. For example, the second half of the year saw demand letters shift to become the responsibility of Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC)—a change that went into effect January 3, 2012. Joseph Zebrowitz, MD, and Debbie Mackaman, RHIA, CHCO, comment on this change as well as other updates, including the RAC Statement of Work, the Medicaid RAC final rule, and the new pre-bill demonstration program.
The January issue of Medicare Quarterly Provider Compliance Newsletter (volume 2, issue 2) addressed a number of recovery audit findings, including ambulance services separately payable during an inpatient hospital stay, diseases and disorders of the circulatory system, and minor surgery and other treatment billed as inpatient stay.
QUESTION: A physician admits a 30-year-old male with lower abdominal pain. A CT scan showed consistency with perforated appendicitis. However, the patient had an appendectomy 10 months prior. The physician documents "appendiceal stump syndrome." How should I code this case?