What should inpatient coders remember about the three-day payment window requirements? Although it may seem counterintuitive, Debbie Mackaman, RHIA, CHCO, and Marion G. Kruse, RN, MBA, explain that inpatient coders need to be aware of certain outpatient services that they may need to include on inpatient claims, as well as when they need to alert billers to assign condition code 51.
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?
Physicians use a lot of shortcuts and abbreviations. Some of them may even make it onto the official abbreviation list at their hospital. Some don’t. And even if they did, some physicians will use the wrong term. Robert S. Gold, MD, discusses an example that was featured in the January Medicare Quarterly Provider Compliance Newsletter regarding proper identification and ICD-9-CM coding of a bronchoscopy with biopsy (TBB) vs. a bronchoscopic lung biopsy (TBLB).
When a provider notes a diagnosis on the hospital-acquired condition (HAC) list, coders must be diligent about looking throughout the rest of the chart to ensure documentation clearly indicates the presence of a HAC. For example, if the condition is a pressure ulcer, the condition may have been present on admission. Shelia Bullock, RN, BSN, MBA, CCM, CCDS, and Beverly Cunningham, MS, RN, address the importance of coder participation as members of hospital HAC committees and the development of best practices to ensure accurate HAC and HCAC reporting.
Special Edition MLN Matters article #SE1210 , “Recovery Auditors Findings Resulting from Medical Necessity Reviews of Renal and Urinary Tract Disorders,” outlines recovery auditor findings upon completion of medical necessity reviews. In the article, which addresses documentation and billing for inpatients, recovery auditors concluded that providers had been admitting patients even for clinical situations for which outpatient observation services would have been appropriate.
Trailblazer Health Enterprises, LLC, the Medicare administrative contractor (MAC) for Jurisdiction 4 (i.e., Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas) stated in a February 21 notice that about 68% of reviewed claims billed with MS-DRG 470 (joint replacement or reattachment of lower extremity without MCC) resulted in denials. The MAC cited missing or insufficient documentation as the reason for 96% of these denials.
Coders who keep in mind the injuries that define multiple significant trauma are more likely to identify these cases and assign DRGs based on this classification when present. Joel Moorhead, MD, PhD, CPC, and Beverly (Cross) Selby, RHIT, CCS, examine what defines multiple significant trauma and discuss the coding guidelines for these sometimes complicated cases.
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.
Robert S. Gold, MD, discusses updates to the code definitions and exclusions for various lung diseases, such as pulmonary insufficiency and respiratory failure, and cautions coders about the potential for over-reporting conditions that patients don't have or for identifying conditions that do not meet the intent of the codes.
Even if you didn’t make a personal New Year's resolution, you should make a professional one: to be more conscientious when scrutinizing physician documentation. Experts say every coder should scrutinize physician documentation, especially with ICD-10-CM/PCS looming on the horizon. Glenn Krauss, BBA, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, CPUR, C-CDI, CCDS, and Dinh Nguyen examine the role coders play in determining diagnosis quality and accuracy.
CMS issued Transmittal 1039 in the One-Time Notification Manual on February 3, which provides guidance on reporting claims submissions and date span requirements for 33X Type of Bill, which pertains to Home Health Agencies, containing ICD-10 codes with dates of discharge on or after October 1, 2013.
The American Hospital Association does not plan to “convert” past issues of Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM/PCS. Lynne Spryszak, RN, CCDS, CPC, discusses why this decision has caused concern among coders and clinical documentation improvement specialists, who for years have relied on the guidance published in Coding Clinic to assist with coding complicated diagnoses or procedures.
A great storyteller understands that it’s all in the details. Perhaps it’s the back-story about a particular character or maybe it’s the little facts peppered throughout the tale, but it’s the details that convey the essence of the story. Likewise, some ICD-10-CM injury codes tell only part of a patient’s story. Lolita M. Jones, RHIA, CCS, and Donna M. Smith, RHIA, discuss how to report associated injuries and complications and also talk about why it’s so important to have a firm grasp on anatomy and physiology to ensure accurate coding.
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 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.
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?
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.
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.