QUESTION: Recently, reviewers have denied diagnostic code 584.9 (acute renal failure [ARF]) based on lab values. The diagnosis is well documented and treated by the attending physician, but reviewers are stating the lab values do not support the diagnosis of ARF. The lab values (creatinine/blood urea nitrogen) went from normal to abnormal, and we found no definitive standards for lab parameters to meet the definition of ARF. Following coding guidelines for reporting secondary diagnoses, the ARF was clinically evaluated, the patient received therapeutic and diagnostic procedures, and there was an extended length of stay/increased nursing care. As coders, we feel it is inappropriate to question the physician’s clinical judgment, and reporting the ARF as a secondary diagnosis is correct. Based on the documentation in the record, is it appropriate to code the ARF?
Q Addendum B of the APC updates for 2012 indicates the new molecular pathology codes have status indicator E (noncovered service, not paid under OPPS). Our laboratory director said we should report these new codes in addition to the codes that are payable. Can you explain why?
QUESTION: Can a patient have encephalopathy after surgery? For example, a patient becomes confused post-surgery and is transferred from the medical-surgical floor to the intensive care unit, where he or she receives high doses of pain medication via IV. However, the patient recovers well and the confusion disappears after the IV fluids and reduction in pain medication and oxygen. Would it be appropriate to query the physician regarding encephalopathy and its possible cause, or would this be a red flag for auditors? The situation did extend the patient’s length of stay by one day.
QUESTION: We have a question in regards to hydration that we are trying to figure out. Does the physician specifically have to state in his or her documentation that the IV is for hydration purposes or can a coder figure it out through critical thinking and using the process of hierarchal injection/infusion coding when reading the record? For example, X IV fluids are being used for an antibiotic and after the antibiotic, the IV fluids continue at 125/hr for hydration. Does the physician need to document "for hydration"? Our physicians do not want to write that. Do you have any good advice on this?
QUESTION: We are a nondialysis facility, so when a patient is in observation for some other reason and must undergo hemodialysis, we report code G0257 (unscheduled or emergency dialysis treatments for an ESRD [end stage renal disease] patient in a hospital outpatient department that is not certified as an ESRD facility). But how should we code peritoneal dialysis when a patient is in observation or inpatient for other problems? I have received three different codes from different coders. I cannot really find any information on this anywhere.
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?
Q We're struggling with nursing documentation of stop times for IV infusions (e.g., piggybacks and hydration). The nurses also inconsistently document a patient's return to the unit from diagnostics. We know that CMS now allows us to use average times for common services, and we're interested in considering this approach at my organization. Can you share additional specifics?
QUESTION: I have a question regarding the coding of a computer-assisted fluoroscopy. Consider the following documentation: Use and interpretation of intraoperative fluoroscopy. After positioning the patient, the posterior lumbar area was prepped and draped in the standard sterile fashion. The prior incision was marked with a marking pen. C-arm fluoroscopy was used to map an incision extending from the tip of the spinous process of L2 to that of L5. After performing a time-out, this incision was infiltrated with local anesthetic and incised with a 10-blade scalpel. Dissection proceeded through the subcutaneous fat using Bovie monopolar cautery. Self-retaining retractors were applied. Dissection then proceeded in the midline through the avascular plane through the lumbodorsal fascia and musculature using the Bovie. Self-retaining retractors were deepened. Would you assign a procedure code for the fluoroscopy for this inpatient procedure or would it just be inclusive in the procedure? There seems to be confusion when comparing this procedure in an inpatient setting vs. an outpatient setting.
QUESTION: The 2012 CPT ® Manual includes the typical time physicians spend at the bedside and on the patient’s hospital floor or unit for initial observation care codes 99218, 99219, and 99220. Do these codes only apply when the counseling and/or coordination of care support the respective 30/50/70 minutes of time? Do you know if CMS has published any new guidelines related to these times?
QUESTION: A patient had an aneurysm at arteriovenous (AV) fistula, and the physician excluded the aneurysm between two clamps, ends oversewn, and excised the aneurysm. The physician used a tunneler to tunnel an 8 mm Flixine graft from the arterial to the venous side, and two end-to-side anastomoses were then performed at the vein and arterial end. Should we report code 39.42 (revision of AV shunt for renal dialysis) with code 38.63 (other excision of vessel), or code 38.43 (resection of vessel with replacement), or another code(s)?
Our coding experts answer your questions about determining ED visit level, coding open reduction and internal fixation of a radius fracture, and coding image-guided minimally invasive lumbar decompression.
With all the complexities related to the implementation of ICD-10, it's no wonder that so many in the healthcare industry have a number of questions related to the various aspects of this new coding...