Coders are constantly analyzing documentation for clues and details that may indicate the need for a physician query. For example, coders should watch for clinical evidence that points to a condition that the physician may not have explicitly documented. Coders also need to be wary of reporting conditions without accounting for context or other clinical indicators in the documentation. William E. Haik, MD, CDIP, explains how this can lead to inappropriate reporting of an MCC, for example, that the overall clinical picture does not support.
These days, documentation improvement and compliance are at the forefront of coders' minds. In some cases, coders are led completely astray by bad data and physician documentation that isn't entirely accurate. Robert S. Gold, MD, emphasizes that it’s important for coders to always look at the larger clinical picture in the medical record—not just a documented laboratory result or change in vital sign. Gold applies this philosophy and examines a number of conditions, including anemia, acute kidney injury, congestive heart failure, and myocardial infarction.
How does medical necessity get “overlooked” on the physician side as well as the inpatient side? Case managers, utilization review staff, physician advisors, CDI specialists, and coders, each carry out specific duties and responsibilities when reviewing medical records. Glenn Krauss, BBA, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, CPUR, FCS, PCS, C-CDIS, CCDS, examines contributing factors and takes a closer look at guidelines Trailblazer Health recently issued defining specific joint replacement (DRG 470) documentation that both hospitals and physicians should follow to support medical necessity.
CMS released in February a fact sheet, “Global Surgery,” which contains information regarding the components of a global surgery package, including guidance about billing and payment rules for surgeries, endoscopies, and global surgical packages that are split between two or more physicians.
QUESTION: We are having a discussion about how to code when the studies section of the history and physical (H&P) indicates that the chest x-ray showed atelectasis or that an electrocardiogram showed right bundle branch block with anterior fascicular block. Some of us believe that it’s okay to code the diagnosis (i.e., atelectasis) if the provider states that the testing “showed” the diagnosis, whereas others believe we cannot code the diagnosis as it is a lab/testing result, and the provider could just be reading the results onto his or her H&P dictation. I realize you cannot go to the testing result itself and code from it directly. However, I argue that it would be okay to code for it because the provider is using this information to make decisions about care, testing, and procedures, and he or she indicates the testing results in the H&P body. What are your thoughts?