Query Tip: Query for Pathology Results
Tissue findings interpreted by a pathologist are not equivalent to the attending physician’s medical diagnosis based on the patient’s clinical condition. If the attending physician has not indicated the significance of an abnormal finding within a pathology report, the coder must query to determine if the finding may be reported.
Coding guideline III.B. states:
Abnormal findings (laboratory, x-ray, pathologic, and other diagnostic results) are not coded and reported unless the provider indicates their clinical significance. If the findings are outside the normal range and the attending provider has ordered other tests to evaluate the condition or prescribed treatment, it is appropriate to ask the provider whether the abnormal finding should be added. Please note: This differs from the coding practices in the outpatient setting for coding encounters for diagnostic tests that have been interpreted by a provider.
One pathological finding that may have implications on DRG assignment is metastasis. The attending physician may document a diagnosis of primary malignancy within the record, but fails to indicate the presence of any metastatic sites. If a pathological finding of metastasis was found in the sample, a query should be generated to confirm the clinical significance of this finding. A sample query is found below.
*Right colon and ileum with findings of adenocarcinoma extending through the muscularis propria into the surrounding pericolic soft tissue – Thirteen of thirty-three lymph nodes positive (Pathology Report)
*No documentation elsewhere in record regarding metastatic sites
Can you confirm any metastatic sites based on the pathology results?
In this example, there is no evidence in the pathology report of more than one possible metastatic site. If the coder listed options for response (i.e. – abdominal lymph nodes, other site, unable to determine), the query would be considered leading. Options should only be listed if more than one specific site can be supported by the pathology report documentation.
The information contained in this query 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.
Back in April, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) published a report detailing its findings from a review of two groups of high-risk diagnosis codes, acute stroke and major depressive disorder. The objective was to determine whether selected diagnosis codes submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for use in CMS’s risk adjustment program complied with Federal requirements.
There seems to be differences of opinions on the issue of a 40w0day gestation Can you clarify if P08.21 should be assigned for 40w0day infant or if it would not be assigned unless the infant’s gestation age was 40w1day or greater?
Coders may find situations where a patient is documented as meeting SIRS or sepsis criteria, or has some clinical indicators reflective of possible sepsis, but the physician never documents sepsis as a diagnosis. Should the coder always query for sepsis in these instances?
In this example, would it be appropriate to code the complication code T82.03XA, Leakage of heart valve prosthesis, initial encounter as the principal diagnosis over the HFpEF (heart failure exacerbation) code?
We interviewed our most productive coders and reviewers, asking them what steps they take to find a rhythm that works for them. This week, we talked with Kerry Atkins, CDIP, CCS‑P, COC, CPC, CPCO, CPMA, CEMC, COBGC, RMB, Physician Services Consultant at HIA, about the steps she takes to find her routine.
A higher CMI corresponds to increased consumption of resources and increased cost of patient care, resulting in increased reimbursement to the facility from government and private payers, like CMS. We know that documentation directly impacts coding.
With the implementation of ICD-10-PCS more codes were developed in order to accurately report procedures. Spinal fusion coding is still a problematic coding issue and at times, even a coder’s nightmare. Coders often report only the code for the fusion thinking that one code would include all of the other procedures that are performed.
Answer: I would code 0HPT0NZ for removal of tissue expander from right breast, open and change 0HPT0JZ, removal of synthetic substitute from right breast, open, for removal of the acellular dermal matrix to 0HPT0KZ, Removal of nonautologous tissue substitute from right breast, open approach.
There are certain conditions that have instructional notes in the ICD-10-CM tabular/coding conventions that guide the coder in sequencing. This is especially true when the condition has a common manifestation or underlying conditions of a chronic disease. If there is a “code first” note in the tabular, the coder should follow this instruction and sequence the underlying etiology or chronic condition first followed by the manifestation as an additional diagnosis.
When it comes to coding and documentation, finding your own rhythm can lead to positive results. For our series, Find Your Routine, we interviewed our most productive coders and reviewers and asked them what steps they take to find a rhythm that works for them. This week, we talked with Meghan Schumacher, CPC, CPMA, Provider Coding Consultant at Health Information Associates, Inc., about the steps she takes to find her routine.
Last year, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) performed an investigation that found, “between 2014 and 2016, Medicare Advantage organizations overturned 75% of their preauthorization and payment denials upon appeal,” which is why, at HIA, we always advise our clients to engage in the appeals process.
There may be instances where a coder will suspect the patient has acute kidney injury (AKI), but the physician has failed to document the diagnosis. In another scenario, the physician may have made the diagnosis, but there is a question of clinical validity. In either case, a query would be justified.
Changes to CC/MCC designations included in the proposal could have a potentially dramatic effect on casemix. The presence of a major complication or comorbidity (MCC) or complication or comorbidity (CC) generally is representative of a patient that requires more resources.
How many times have you heard “it only takes one code to get the claim paid”? With the emphasis on the severity of illness and the move toward value-based reimbursement in today’s healthcare climate, it is more important than ever for coders to report all applicable diagnoses. There are three important pieces: what the provider documents, how to the coder interprets that documentation and codes it, and then how it is extrapolated.
The reimbursement landscape is already a complicated one – and the highly-complex claims denials process only adds fuel to the fire. A denied claim is one that has been determined by a payor to be in appropriate. Once a coding specialist amends the errors on a rejected claim, they can resubmit it for consideration. The time-intensive process has a significant impact on the cash flow for any setting in the healthcare environment. They are also very costly to appeal.
When a practitioner documents a diagnosis that does not appear to be supported by the clinical indicators in the health record, a coder has four choices: (1) Code the diagnosis; (2) Ignore the diagnosis; (3) Generate a query to confirm clinical validation of a diagnosis; (4) Follow the facility’s escalation policy for clinical validation.
A California-based healthcare services provider and several of its affiliates have agreed to pay $30 million to resolve allegations they submitted inaccurate information about the health status of beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plans, according to the Department of Justice.
Happy National Volunteer Week! This week we celebrate the impact volunteer work has on building stronger communities. We know that our staff have a positive impact while they’re on the job, and we are proud to share a few ways our #PeopleBehindTheNumbers are taking time to volunteer in their own local communities.
Scrutiny of coding compliance in the growing ambulatory surgical center (ASC) market has increased in recent years from both Medicare and private payers. This will only increase as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) moves towards value-based care.
Patients being admitted for acute renal failure due to dehydration have been happening for many, many years now. Typically what happens is a patient gets dehydrated for one reason or another. Once dehydration sets in, it can quickly start to affect many body organs. This can lead to acute renal/kidney failure/injury.
In December 2018, a Pennsylvania for-profit hospital and health system, and its CEO agreed to pay a total of $12.5 million to settle allegations they submitted false claims to Medicare and other federal health care programs for orthopedic surgeries. The settlement resolves allegations that top executives exploited a loophole – AKA modifier 59 – that allowed them to double bill federal healthcare payers for surgeries and ignored coding consultants who advised them that they were improperly billing.
When it comes to coding and documentation, finding your own rhythm can lead to positive results. For our series, Find Your Routine, we interviewed our most productive coders and asked them what steps they take to find a rhythm that works for them. This week, we talked with Zahra Ghahremani, CCS, Coding Specialist at Health Information Associates, about the steps she takes to find her routine.
All queries require at least two elements – clinical indicators and a query question. Coders can also include multiple choice options for response or leave the query open-ended for a free text response. The order in which these elements are listed in a query is open to coder or facility preference.
One area that coders struggle with is when to report a separate condition code when an already assigned combination code includes the condition. For example, if an obstetric patient is admitted and delivers, and the physician documents “obstetric patient delivered with anemia,” should both code O99.02 Anemia complicating childbirth and D64.9, Anemia, unspecified be coded or should only O99.02 be assigned?
When it comes to coding and documentation, finding your own rhythm can lead to positive results. For our series, Find Your Routine, we interviewed our most productive coders and asked them what steps they take to find a rhythm that works for them. This week, we talked with Donna Cowan, RHIT, CCS, Coding Specialist at Health Information Associates, about the steps she takes to find her routine.
The key to choosing reasonable options for a query response is to remember that the query must stand alone. Any clinical indicators supporting the options must be included in the query itself. In this week’s Query Tip, we provide examples of two queries in which the options for response are not reasonable based on clinical indicators used by coder.
Last week, we looked at tidbits for reporting the ICD-10-CM codes for pregnancy/obstetric records. Now we will look at some for the ICD-10-PCS reporting of these records. In reporting the appropriate ICD-10-PCS codes a coder must know what is included in the terminology of products of conception (POC).
Chances are, we all know someone affected by heart disease and stroke, because about 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of 1 death every 38 seconds. But together we can change that.
There was a time when coding delivery records was considered simple. Many times, these types of records were given to the newer coders. However, as coding becomes more complex, this is no longer the case. With the implementation of ICD-10-CM came more codes for very detailed and specific issues that occur during pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium.