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Q&A: Receiving query responses from providers

Have CDI questions?

Have CDI questions?

Q: Our hospital is having a hard time getting our physicians to respond to queries, do you have any suggestions on how to get them to reply?

A: The most important thing is make sure the query is concise and contains clinical indicators from the record. You also want to use different methods of contacting the physician as well. Various points of contact include within the electronic health record, via e-mail, by phone, or by having your CDI team visit them on the floor. [more]

Guest Post, Part 2: Where do we stand with clinical validation?

clinical validation poll(1)

According to an ACDIS poll, 70% conduct clinical validation reviews.

By Richard Pinson, MD, FACP, CCS, and Cynthia Tang, RHIA, CCS

At the 2017 ACDIS conference in May, Nelly Leon Chisen, RHIA, director of coding and classification, the executive editor of the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Coding Clinic provided clarification on the new Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, I.A.19 titled “Code Assignment and Clinical Criteria.” (Read last week’s post here.) At the meeting, Nelly explained the Guidelines intended to reaffirm long-standing advice that coding must be based on provider documentation, essentially that:

  • Only the physician, or other qualified healthcare practitioner legally accountable for establishing the patient’s diagnosis, can “diagnose” the patient.
  • Clinical information published in Coding Clinic does not constitute clinical criteria for establishing a diagnosis, substitute for the provider’s clinical judgement, or eliminate the need for provider documentation regarding the clinical significance of a patient’s medical condition.

[more]

Guest Post, Part 1: Where do we stand with clinical validation?

clinical validation queries

According to a recent survey, 44.88% send 5 or more clinical validation queries monthly.

By Richard Pinson, MD, FACP, CCS, and Cynthia Tang, RHIA, CCS

The 2017 Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, effective October 1, 2016, contained a new, perplexing, and problematic section I.A.19 titled “Code Assignment and Clinical Criteria,” which states:

“The assignment of a diagnosis code is based on the provider’s diagnostic statement that the condition exists.  The provider’s statement that the patient has a particular condition is sufficient. Code assignment is not based on clinical criteria used by the provider to establish the diagnosis.”

This has been incorrectly interpreted by some to mean that clinical validation of documented conditions is no longer required for code assignment on claims.

[more]

Q&A: Coding chronic kidney disease, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus

LauriePrescott_May 2017

Laurie L. Prescott, RN, MSN, CCDS, CDIP, answered this question

Q: Let’s say a provider documented chronic kidney disease (CKD), 2/2 hypertension (HTN), and diabetes mellitus (DM), and the stage of CKD was not specified, but lab results show patient was in stage 2. Could I assign codes for CKD, stage unspecified, Hypertensive CKD w/ stage 1-4, and Type II DM. Do I need to assign a separate code for HTN?

A: Let’s break down the documentation.

CKD secondary to HTN and DM: With this documentation, we have two combination codes to assign—hypertensive CKD and diabetic CKD. We would also assign a code to reflect the stage of the CKD.

[more]

Q&A: Electronic query formatting

Have CDI questions?

Have CDI questions?

Q: We use an electronic system at our hospital, and find it is difficult to query a physician since we all have our own processes. Would you recommend having a set format for a query that is used electronically?

A: This is going to be contingent on the system your facility uses.

Some EHRs have pretty complex platforms that will allow you to build templates and write a narrative. Here you would write your question, provide all of the appropriate details, and there would be a more formatted, outlined section below where the individual leaving the query can populate the form within that template.

[more]

Summer Reading: Physician Education Discussion Scenarios

LauriePrescott_May 2017

Laurie L. Prescott, MSN, RN, CCDS, CDIP

by Laurie L. Prescott, MSN, RN, CCDS, CDIP

The following clinical scenarios illustrate where clarification would be indicated and include examples of differing communication methods.

Clinical example: The record states the patient was admitted for treatment of pneumonia and the patient was placed on IV antibiotics. A swallow evaluation indicates the patient is at risk for aspiration. The patient is placed on aspiration precautions and thickened liquids. For the coder to assign a code for aspiration pneumonia, the relationship between the pneumonia and aspiration needs to be documented in the record.

Approach #1 (verbal query): “Dr. Smith, I’m Jane from the documentation improvement team. Do you have a minute to work with me? This chart indicates the patient is at risk for aspiration and needs thickened liquids. Could you identify a probable etiology for her pneumonia? The physician responds, “It is probably due to aspiration.” The CDI specialist thanks the physicians and asks, “Could you please clarify that possible cause-and-effect relationship in the record?” She then reminds the physician that “Unlike outpatient coding, the use of possible or probable is permitted and can be coded for inpatient cases.” The physician immediately writes an addendum to his progress note: “Jane, thanks for your help.”  Jane should then document this verbal query and the results as part of the CDI notes for this account. [more]

Q&A: Missing documentation for acute kidney injury

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Ask ACDIS all your CDI questions!

Q: We are currently coding a chart for an acute kidney injury which has the baseline serum creatinine and urine output missing from the chart. Is there something we can do to identify additional information before we have to query the physician?

[more]

Guest Post: Minute for the medical staff, part 2

James Kennedy, MD, CCS, CDIP

James Kennedy, MD, CCS, CDIP

By James S. Kennedy, MD, CCS, CDIP

Definitions matter

Many clinical documentation improvement (CDI) programs now look to capture risk-adjusted conditions which help improve the capture of a patient’s severity of illness and risk of mortality regardless of setting. Since risk-adjusted outcomes depends on the definitions of coded diagnoses, let’s discuss current literature which supports specific clinical terms:

Shock: a life-threatening, generalized form of acute circulatory failure associated with inadequate oxygen use by the cells. In assessing the potential presence of shock, abnormalities of the skin (degree of cutaneous perfusion); kidneys (urine output); brain (mental status) are examined. While arterial hypotension (defined as systolic blood pressure of less than 90 mmHg, or mean arterial pressure of less than 65 mmHg, or a decrease of greater than or equal to 40 mmHg from baseline), is commonly present, it should not be required to define shock. As such, lactate levels in shock states are typically less than 2 mEq/L (or mmol/L) in shock states. In neonates, significant shock stigmata, such as decreased capillary refill, mottling, cool extremities, and tachycardia, can define shock in the right clinical circumstance.

[more]

Guest Post: Minute for the medical staff, part 1

James Kennedy, MD, CCS, CDIP

James S. Kennedy, MD, CCS, CDIP

By James S. Kennedy, MD, CCS, CDIP

Those of us who care for critically ill patients intuitively know who will have a long hospital stay and who will die. As such, intensive care unit (ICU) scoring systems based on clinical indicators such as Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation Three (APACHE-3) or Simplified Acute Physiology Score Three (SAPS III) in adults or Pediatric Index of Mortality Two (PIM2) in children have been developed, though validity in an individual patient varies.

Medicare, state governments, and private enterprise, such as Vizient, Truven, Quantros, and 3M, also have scoring systems based on the ICD-10-CM codes derived from explicit, clear, and consistent provider documentation. As such, how we define and document diagnoses that predict morbidity and mortality is essential if we want our patient’s risk to be accurately portrayed.

Physician definitions and documentation are crucial

In navigating the ICD-10-CM maze, we must remember the following as written in the Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM, Fourth Quarter, 2016: [more]

From the Forum: Using pediatric nursing notes for query creation

From the ACDIS Forum

From the ACDIS Forum

Nursing notes cannot be used for coding and billing purposes. This does not mean, however, that they’re worthless for CDI purposes. Often times, CDI specialists neglect reviewing this documentation because they know it can’t be coded. This is a mistake.

“Often times, it’s the nursing notes that will support queries for encephalopathy, delirium or other altered mental status conditions,” says Karen Bridgeman, MSN, RN, CCDS, CDI educator at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

While nursing notes can help with clinical indicators to support a query with patients of all ages, nurses’ documentation helps a couple of pediatric-specific diagnoses, for instance, thrush.

“One thing I’ve noted a few times is that nursing usually documents clinical indicators of thrush. The doctor orders Nystatin, but doesn’t document what he/she is treating,” Claudine Hutchinson, BSN, RN, CDI specialist at the Children’s Hospital at St. Francis in Tulsa, Oklahoma, says.

With sticky diagnoses such as malnutrition – an especially difficult diagnosis in pediatrics – nursing notes also often provide valuable information on the patient’s body mass index (BMI), height, and weight. Additionally, the nursing notes often provide clinical indicators to support clinical validity of an already present diagnosis of malnutrition, according to Laurie Prescott, RN, MSN, CCDS, CDIP, CDI education specialist at HCPro in Danvers, Massachusetts.

“Malnutrition in children is based, in part, on their failure to meet developmental milestones and deviations related to their z-score and the pediatric BMI scale,” Allen Frady, RN, BSN, CCDS, CCS, CDI education specialist for BRL Healthcare in Middleton, Massachusetts, said in response to a question in CDI Strategies.

If the nursing documentation supports a diagnosis of malnutrition based on unique pediatric criteria, then a CDI specialist can use that information to support a query to the physician. Often, nurses record the information used to calculate BMI during the initial physical assessment.

Nurses also often document the present on admission (POA) status of pressure ulcers during initial assessments. Since pressure ulcers fall under the hospital-acquired conditions banner, it is vital to document their POA status. If a physician documents a pressure ulcer, check the nursing documentation for its status upon admission.

We work with our [providers] during rounds to be sure that POA status is documented for any pressure ulcers documented by nursing on the admission assessment,” Jackie Touch, RN, MSN, CCM, CDI specialist at CHOC Children’s in Orange, California, says.

Nursing notes can also provide a valuable education entry point for CDI specialists. “In some instances, it may be as simple as showing the physicians where they can access the nursing documentation. “The physicians did not know how or were unable to view the nursing flow sheets,” at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center before the CDI helped address the problem, says Melinda Matthews, RN, BSN, CCDS, manager of inpatient clinical documentation excellence at Wake Forest Baptist Health, which includes Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in an ACDIS Q&A.

Even though coders cannot use the nursing notes for coding purposes, Prescott advises working the nursing documentation into your regular chart review process.

“[Nursing notes] often assist in understanding the patient’s baseline conditions, and often help us to identify any secondary diagnoses not mentioned in the provider’s initial assessment,” Prescott said in a response to a question in CDI Strategies.

Prescott also advises educating the nursing staff about the usefulness of their documentation in supporting clinical validation and identifying missing diagnoses and opportunities for clarification. The nurses can be a valuable asset in reaching CDI goals, so educate them accordingly, Prescott says.

Editor’s note: This article’s content was taken largely from recent posts on the ACDIS Forum. To participate in the Forum, click here. If you have any questions regarding this or the forum in general, please email ACDIS Editor Linnea Archibald at larchibald@acdis.org.