Part 8: Spinal Fusion Coding — Discectomy During Spinal Fusion
Kim Carrier RHIT, CDIP, CCS, CCS-P
Director of Coding Quality Assurance
AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer
In Part 7, we focused on identifying any instrumentation that may be used during a spinal fusion. In Part 8, we are going to focus on identifying if a discectomy is performed and if this is an excision or a resection of the disc.
What is a discectomy?
A discectomy is surgical removal of any herniated or damaged disc in the patient’s spine. When a disc is herniated (slipped, ruptured, bulging or prolapsed disc), the spinal nerves may become irritated and “pinched.” The discectomy does not provide relief with the actual back/neck pain, but does typically relieve the associated radiating pain (radiculopathy) from the pressure/irritation on the spinal nerve.
Determining if a discectomy an excision or a resection?
A discectomy can be either an excision (partial/removal of part of the disc) or a resection (total/removal of the entire disc). The operative report should describe if part or all of the disc material is removed. Most often, just the fragment of the disc that is irritating the nerve is removed leaving the remaining disc intact. If the entire disc is removed, the disc space may need to be filled with synthetic bone substitute or from the patient’s own bone (see Parts 5&6 of this series). Discectomy is almost always performed during spinal fusion surgery.
Terms to look for:
- Excision of disc material (partial)—removal of free disc fragments, removed the displaced disc, excised the disc, or partial discectomy
- Resection of disc (total)—total, complete, thorough or radical removal of the disc
When discectomy is performed (partial or total) during spinal fusion surgery the discectomy is reported separately. When discectomy is performed on multiple levels (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, cervicothoracic, thoracolumbar or lumbosacral) each intervertebral disc would be coded, but only once per level (i.e., cervical, thoracic, lumbar, etc.) An example would be a patient that has L3-S1 partial discectomies. This would be reported with two ICD-10-PCS codes. One for the lumbar discectomy (excision at L3 and L5 interspaces) and one for the lumbosacral discectomy (excision L5-S1 interspace). Even though two lumbar vertebral discs (L3-L4 and L4-L5) were excised this is only reported once. This is because the vertebral level designations of lumbar spinal cord do not constitute separate and distinct body parts anatomically according to AHA, and therefore, the multiple procedures guideline B3.2b does not apply.
View parts 1-7 of this series here: hiacode.com/topics/series/spinal-fusion-coding/.
Be on the lookout for Part 9 which will discuss how to identify if a decompression of the spinal nerve or spinal cord was also completed during the spinal fusion.
Coding Clinic, Second Quarter 2016: Page 6-7, 16
Coding Clinic, Second Quarter 1990: Page 27
The information contained in this coding advice is valid at the time of posting. Viewers are encouraged to research subsequent official guidance in the areas associated with the topic as they can change rapidly.
Assign code Z20.828, “Contact with and (suspected) exposure to other viral communicable diseases” for all patients who are tested for COVID-19 and the results are negative, regardless of symptoms, no symptoms, exposure or not as we are in a pandemic.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new procedure codes for treatments of COVID-19 – effective as of August 1, 2020. Among the new codes are Section X New Technology codes for the introduction or infusion of therapeutics including Remdesivir, Sarilumab, Tocilizumab, transfusion of convalescent plasma, as well as introduction of any other or new therapeutic substances for the treatment of COVID-19.
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Why are so many AKI records being denied? It’s hard to give one answer for why so many AKI records are being denied lately, but most appear to be due to the multiple sets of criteria available for use in determining if a patient has AKI, as well as physician documentation. As stated in Part 3 of this series, there are three main criteria/classifications used to diagnose AKI.
In previous parts of this series we looked at the definitions of AKI/ARF, causes, coding and sequencing, and the common clinical indicators that patients present with that are diagnosed with this condition. In Part 4, we will look at the documentation that should be present to report the diagnosis without fear of denial, as well as when a query is needed to clarify the diagnosis.
If the facility does a COVID-19 test, and test is negative, do I need a diagnosis code. The answer is yes, you will report a Z-code. The Z-code depends on the record documentation and circumstances of testing. For any patient receiving a COVID-19 test, if negative, there MUST e a Z-code to describe why the test was taken. (Test negative for COVID-19 and MD does not override negative results).
In the first parts of this series we looked at definitions of AKI/ARF, causes, coding and sequencing. In Part 3, we will look at what clinical indicators would possibly be present to support the diagnosis of AKI/ARF.
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As discussed in Part 1 of this series, AKI/ARF is a common diagnosis that coders see daily. In Part 2, we are going to focus on the different types/specificity of AKI/ARF. We’ll learn what they mean, as well as how to code the diagnosis.
This is part 1 in a series focused on coding of acute kidney injury (AKI) and/or acute renal failure (ARF). AKI/ARF is reported often, but is also one of the most common diagnosis found in denials.
With the proliferation of COVID-19 cases, we thought we would put together a quick reference listing of some of the common scenarios that coders have asked about. As with all coding, coders should follow Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting and the COVD-19 Frequently Asked Questions document by the AHA.
Effective March 1, Medicare will pay physicians for telehealth services at the same rate as in-person visits for all diagnoses, not just services related to COVID-19. This great for providers whose patients are reluctant to visit the office.
The biggest reasons why some hospital systems are moving to single path coding is to eliminate duplicative processes and to optimize productivity. In addition, costs are reduced when only one coder “touches” the record and completes both types of coding.
Effective with 4/1/2020 discharges, ICD-10-CM code U07.0 is used to report vaping -related disorders. ICD-10-CM code U07.0 (vaping related disorder) should be used when documentation supports that the patient has a lung-related disorder from vaping. This code is found in the new ICD-10-CM Chapter 22. U07.0 will be in listed in the ICD-10-CM manual under a new section: Provisional assignment of new disease of uncertain etiology or emergency use.
The US government and public-health officials are urging consumers to utilize telemedicine for remote treatment, fill prescriptions and get medical attention during the new coronavirus pandemic. The goal is to keep people with symptoms at home and to practice social distancing if their condition doesn’t warrant more intensive hospital care.
Coronavirus: Tips for working from home. Companies around the world have told their employees to stay home and work remotely. Whether you’re a new to this concept or a work from home veteran, here’s some tips to staying productive from our #HIAfamily.
This is the final part of a three part series in which we address how coders can better interact with Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) professionals. In this part, we provide an actual example of an effective communication response to CDI.
This is part two of a three part series in which we address how coders can better interact with Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) professionals. In this part, we discuss mismatches and how to best go about resolving them. In part three we will provide a case example of best practice interaction.
This is part one of a three part series in which we address how coders can better interact with Clinical Documentation Integrity (CDI) professionals. Many times these departments are separate and the remote environment makes it difficult to interact efficiently between the two departments. In part one, we will discuss the history and objectives of CDI so the coder has a better understanding of CDI’s role.
One reason that coders should report chronic conditions (including history and status codes) on outpatient records is the HCC’s—Hierarchical Condition Categories. The quick and easy explanation of what HCC’s are is each HCC is mapped to certain ICD-10-CM codes or code ranges. HCC coding is designed to estimate future health care costs for patients.
For Part 5 of this 5-part series, we will look at Chapter 4 within ICD-10-CM—E00-E89—Endocrine, Nutritional, and Metabolic Diseases. There is no possible way to include every guideline or coding reference for this chapter, but here are some of the most common issues.
For Part 4 of this 5-part series, we will look at Chapter 10 within ICD-10-CM—J00-J99—Diseases of the Respiratory System. There is no possible way to include every guideline or coding reference for this chapter, but here are some of the most common issues.
For Part 3 of this 5 part series, we will look at Chapter 9 within ICD-10-CM—I00-I99—Diseases of the Circulatory System. This chapter contains so many of the everyday diagnoses that we code such as hypertension, heart disease and stroke.
For Part 1 of this 5-part series, we will look at Chapter 21 within ICD-10-CM—Z00-Z99—Factors influencing health status and contact with health services. There is no possible way to include every guideline or coding reference for this chapter, but I’ll do my best to touch on some off the most common issues.
The HIM world has been buzzing recently with discussion of “Social Determinants of Health” and coded data. What does this mean for coders and the HIM field?
In response to the recent occurrences of vaping related disorders and in consultation with the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the WHO Family of International Classifications (WHOFIC) Network Classification and Statistics Advisory Committee (CSAC) was convened to discuss a diagnosis code for vaping related illness for immediate use.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is in process of developing a new code for the COVID-19 (coronavirus) that will be released October 1, 2020. In the meantime, the CDC has provided advice on coding the COVID-19 coronavirus.
We’re finally at the #1 most common DRG with recommendations by HIA for 2019. Just to recap, HIA reviewed over 50,000 inpatient records in 2019. Most have probably already guessed what the correct DRG would be with the most recommendations. There are just some diagnoses and DRG’s that will always be a thorn in the side for coders. #1 DRG with the most recommendations during HIA reviews : DRG 871—Septicemia or severe sepsis w/o mechanical ventilation >96 hours with MCC
We’re now at the second most common DRG with recommendations by HIA for 2019. Just to recap, HIA reviewed over 50,000 inpatient records in 2019. We are counting down to # 1. #2 DRG with the most recommendations during HIA reviews: DRG 872—Septicemia or severe sepsis w/o mechanical ventilation >96 hours w/o MCC.