QUESTION: A patient was exposed to shingles, for which a coder reported ICD-9-CM code V01.79 (exposure to other viral diseases, including HIV). This poses a problem for billing as code V01.79 is a confidential diagnosis, requiring special release of information from the patient and would remain on the insurance record. As an RN and certified coder, I believed code V01.71 (exposure to varicella) is the correct code because the varicella virus causes both chicken pox and shingles. However, I am being overridden by the chief business office. Which code is correct?
QUESTION: I've always coded labile hypertension with ICD-9-CM code 401.9 (unspecified essential hypertension) because I couldn't find a more specific one. My supervisor stated that I must use ICD-9-CM code 796.2 (elevated blood pressure reading without diagnosis of hypertension) because it means the patient's blood pressure was high without a history of hypertension. The physician's diagnosis is labile hypertension. What code would you use?
Our coding experts answer your questions about payment for items in OPPS Addendum B and skin substitutes, incomplete documentation for IV infusions, coding for amputation of finger and aftercare, facility codes for peritoneal dialysis
QUESTION: When would you use the table labeled as not otherwise classified drugs at the end of the HCPCS Level II Table of Drugs and Biologicals? Many other drugs are not assigned a HCPCS code and are not in this table.
QUESTION: Our pulmonologists are not comfortable documenting acute respiratory failure unless the patient is on a ventilator. Also, they rarely document chronic respiratory failure, even in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients on continuous home oxygen. I’m trying to develop standard query forms for acute and chronic respiratory failure and am running into these obstacles. How do you recommend handling this problem?
QUESTION: We are a small anesthesia group and we are concerned about the specificity for ICD-10-CM. If we submit a claim with an unspecified code and the surgeon submits a claim with more specificity, will we still get paid?
QUESTION: A physician documents in an operative report debridement of a necrotic muscle (not due to an open wound). Must the physician also document how the muscle is removed to report ICD-9-CM procedure code 83.45 (other myectomy)? Is this considered excisional or nonexcisional debridement? What documentation is required to code the removal of a necrotic portion of a muscle?
QUESTION: Can you explain the difference between modifier -80 (assistant at surgery by another physician) and –AS (physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist services for assistant at surgery)? Medicare requires us to use both modifiers for our physician assistants. We have been instructed to use -AS first and -80 second for all Medicare claims submissions. Is this correct?
Our coding experts answer your questions about unsuccessful foreign body removal, assigning modifier -52 for cancelled procedures, new HCPCS codes for April, reporting vaccine administration codes, new composite codes for 2012.
QUESTION: I would like to know the correct codes to use when a patient comes into the ER after smoking synthetic marijuana and has symptoms of palpitations, seizure, or anxiety. Some physicians document ingestion, while others document abuse. What is the proper way to code considering we do not have a specific code for this new drug on the market?
QUESTION: For a healing traumatic finger amputation with concern but no diagnosis of infection at the amputation site (the physician prescribed Bactrim), is it correct to assign code V54.89 (other orthopedic aftercare) and ICD-9-CM code 886.x (traumatic amputation of finger)?
Our coding experts answer your questions about molecular pathology codes, HCPCS codes for drugs that aren’t separately payable under OPPS, deducting push time from infusions, CPT initial observation codes, and diabetes coding in ICD-10-CM.
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?
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.