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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Computer-assisted coding (CAC) is a hot topic these days. Many industry experts claim that CAC is the wave of the future—that its accuracy has been proven, and that humans cannot match its productivity. With CAC, elements such as fatigue, stress, and inexperience are no longer factors that can negatively affect code assignment. Many articles and vendors sing its praises. However, is it really all that? Robert S. Gold, MD, and Lori Cushing, RHIT, CCS, discuss some relevant concepts.
The goals of coding should always be ensuring data accuracy and capturing a patient's true clinical picture. Knowing the intent of an ICD-9-CM code is crucial. However, coding guidelines and official coding guidance sometimes conflict with these goals, putting coders between a rock and a hard place. Robert S. Gold, MD, examines cardiomyopathy, a disease that affects the heart muscle, as an example of a diagnosis that is frequently misreported due to inaccurate guidance.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) stated in its recent publication, “Hospital Incident Reporting Systems Do Not Capture Most Patient Harm,” that a series of reports examining adverse events in hospitals shows that for the hospitals it surveyed, the incident reporting systems only tracked approximately 14% of incidents.
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.
Times are changing, and, most likely, so are the jobs of your health information management (HIM) staff members. In some cases, there's a sudden addition of responsibilities, such as the implementation of the recovery audit contractor program. In other cases, the increased use of technology triggers a shift. If these changes aren't managed appropriately, you may end up with declines in performance, careless errors, low productivity, or diminished quality. Elizabeth Layman, PhD, RHIA, CCS, FAHIMA, shares her approach to HIM department and job restructuring.
When Jim Brown, FHFMA, RHIA, CCS, started working at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in early November 2010, he quickly realized that there were a number of opportunities to improve their health information management operations and efficiencies. In this article, Brown shares strategies and tips for how he and his management team were able to identify areas that needed improvement and reduce department expenses and come in 9.5% ($149K) under budget for the end of fiscal year 2011.
Medicare Advantage plans rely on the Hierarchical Condition Categories (HCC) system for reimbursement. HCC payments are linked to the individual health risk profiles for the members in the plan. MA Plans use ICD-9-CM codes as the primary indicators of each member’s health status. Therefore, it is essential for MA plans to make sure that providers capture the complete diagnostic profile of patients through accurate and complete physician coding. Holly J. Cassano, CPC, explains why coders need to have a complete understanding of the HCC process and risk adjustment, as well as the effects on the provider, the member, the MA plan, and overall reimbursement.
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)?
Coders should already be familiar with the 285 new, revised, and deleted ICD-9-CM codes that CMS finalized for fiscal year (FY) 2012. However, it’s critical that providers also examine how these changes directly affect MS-DRG assignment. Robert Gold, MD, examines a number of these changes, including MS-DRG assignment related to cardiac-specific comorbidities, autologous bone marrow transplants, excisional debridement, and thoracic aneurysm repair.
Although the New Year marked the deadline for Version 5010 compliance, CMS recently reminded providers that it will not exercise enforcement until April 1, 2012. Despite the 90-day discretionary period, CMS urged providers that they should complete the transition to Version 5010 as soon as possible. This extension will not have any effect on the implementation date for ICD-10-CM/PCS, which remains set for October 1, 2013.