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Q&A: Credentialing for outpatient CDI

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Have CDI questions?

Q: I’ve heard lately that outpatient CDI specialists are less likely to be registered nurses. Is there a reason there may be more coders in this arena?

A: While many outpatient CDI specialists do hold an RN credential, there are good reasons for having coders fill the roll, says Allen Frady, RN, BSN, CCDS, CCS, CDI education specialist for HCPro in Middleton, Massachusetts.

“There are a lot of very specific documentation requirements for evaluation and management (E/M), observation codes, interventional radiology, etc., which RN CDI specialists don’t typically learn,” he says. Additionally, coders may already be comfortable working in a physician practice setting and have a familiarity with hierarchical condition categories (HCC). [more]

Q&A: Receiving query responses from providers

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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]

Q&A: Denial management teams

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Q: What guidance do you have for building a denial management team?

A: As with any team, it is important to have the right players working together with identified roles and responsibilities established for each. The members of the denials management team should be representative of departments with a direct tie to the various types of denials. Include the following groups: [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.

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Q&A: Electronic query formatting

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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.

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Q&A: Documenting excisions in dermatologic settings

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Q: I work in dermatology and need to know what documentation is required for excisions. We are struggling with getting paid.

A: In dermatology, you often find vague documentation like “lesion” and “mass.” So the physician needs to be much more graphic as far as whether the lesion is red, itchy, scratchy, burning, and/or abnormally sized. If you can get the actual size of a lesion or a mass that they are going to excise, they also need to document the size of the excision.

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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?

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Q&A: Rejections for claims for removing impacted cerumen

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Ask ACDIS

Q: We have started receiving rejections for ED claims when the service involves removing impacted cerumen. We are reporting CPT® code 69209 (removal impacted cerumen using irrigation/lavage, unilateral) for each ear, and the documentation supports the irrigation/lavage rather than the physician removing the impaction with instruments. Our claims just started getting rejected in April. 

A: While your question doesn’t specify, it appears that you may be billing this with one line for the left ear with modifier -LT and one line for the right ear with modifier -RT. This code is included in the surgical section of CPT and correct coding requires that this be reported with modifier -50 for a bilateral procedure. In fact, there is a specific parenthetical note that states “For bilateral procedure, report 69209 with modifier -50”. 

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Q&A: Finding focus for CC/MCC reviews

haik

William Haik, MD, FCCP, CDIP

Editor’s note: William Haik, MD, FCCP, CDIP, director of DRG Review, Inc. answered the following questions in conjunction with his webinar, “FY 2017 ICD-10-CM CC/MCC List with Revisions: Clinical Indicators and Query Opportunities.” To purchase the on-demand version of the webinar, click here. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of ACDIS or its advisory board.

Q: I’m having trouble with querying physicians for complication codes. Could you please provide guidance?

A: This is difficult. Unless there is an (coding) index directive, query the attending physician to determine if a condition occurring after surgery is due to, or caused by, the surgical procedure (such as atelectasis following surgery). From a medical perspective, the conditions which occur after surgery are not typically due to the surgery, but are due to other factors such as in atelectasis, operative pain, sedation, supine position, etc. Therefore, when I ask, it is when there is a high probability of being related to the surgical procedure (hematoma, excess hemorrhage which is addressed intraoperatively or immediately post-operatively). 

Q: Does systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) with pneumonia qualify for sepsis or should this be queried?

A: Unfortunately, in ICD-10-CM, there is no coding index entry for SIRS, and the previous index entry in ICD-9-CM for SIRS with infection no longer leads to sepsis. Therefore, the physician must be queried to clarify the documentation and assign an appropriate code.

Q: Should we query when the physicians use accelerated or malignant hypertension (HTN) in regards to hypertensive emergency/urgency?

A: Yes, as the former terms now are considered unspecified, a more specific condition should be sought.

Q: Would a physician query be necessary if the physician documentation indicates malnutrition (CC) and the dietician’s assessment documents mild to moderate malnutrition (CC)?

A: It is unnecessary to query a physician regarding the non-specific documentation of malnutrition. If the physician documents mild or moderate malnutrition, one would assign malnutrition, not otherwise specified, unless the physician specifies further.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for what CDI professionals should do if the physician documents a diagnosis but it is not supported by documentation in the chart or by clinical indicators?

A: I would ask the physician to review the record along with enclosed medical criteria regarding the condition in question. I have developed a handbook which provides evidence-based clinical indicators for common medical conditions. (For a copy, email Behaik@aol.com.)

Q: Should we query for electrolyte abnormalities on gastric bypass patients. We are told imbalances are normal due to diet restrictions.

A: Although electrolyte disturbances are common in gastric bypass patients, they are not normal and not integral to the procedure. The physician would typically would treated the patient if the levels were significantly clinically deranged. In this setting, I would query the attending physician to determine if the levels are merely lab abnormalities or if they should be clinically significant and reportable.

Q: When acute respiratory failure is reported in the postop period and is integral to the procedure (for example, the patient remains on mechanical ventilation for less than two days following post op), do we have to query to see if it is significant or should we code without a query?

A: From a clinical perspective, I assume major surgery (cardiopulmonary, esophageal, gastrointestinal resection surgery) often require prolonged ventilation. In minor surgeries, such as prostate biopsies, extremity surgeries, etc., if the patient is on mechanical ventilation longer than 24-hours and assuming the patient is awake, then I would tend to query regarding post-operative respiratory failure, particularly if there is a medical complication such as aspiration pneumonia, pulmonary edema, etc.

Q: What’s the difference between acute respiratory failure and acute pulmonary insufficiency? Would oxygen dependent Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) be insufficiency instead of failure?

A: Acute respiratory failure is a life-threatening condition which is typified by a pO2 of less than 60 on room air (in patients with previously normal lungs) in the clinical situation of a patient with rapid respirations and increased work of breathing in the acute setting. Acute pulmonary/respiratory insufficiency is a poorly defined term merely meaning non-life-threatening impairment of gas exchange. Therefore, it does not represent a pO2 of less than 60 (in patients with previously normal lungs), but not a completely normal pO2. Oxygen-dependent COPD is consistent with chronic respiratory failure as to obtain oxygen (via Medicare) one must have a pO2 of less than 60.

Q: Post-operative pulmonary insufficiency is an MCC, but post-operative respiratory insufficiency is neither a CC/MCC. Is there a way to differentiate these two diagnoses?

A: There is no medical differentiation between pulmonary and respiratory insufficiency. This is merely an idiosyncrasy of ICD-10-CM.

Q: According to resources, a lactate less than 1.0mmol/L, which is normal, is considered a sepsis indicator. Why is this an appropriate indicator if it is within normal limits rather than greater than 2 which is abnormal?

A: Despite the “normal” limits of lactate up to 2.2 in most hospitals, it has been determined, retroactively, a lactic acid level of greater than 1 is a finding seen in sepsis. It is not specific as there are other hypoperfusion states and/or chronic liver disease which may result in an elevated lactic acid level. Therefore, it must only be interpreted in the appropriate clinical circumstances.

Q: Is healthcare associated pneumonia (HCAP) synonymous with hospital acquired pneumonia?

A: They are similar, but not synonymous. HCAP includes nursing homes, long-term acute care facilities, chemotherapy, and dialysis centers. Hospital-acquired pneumonia requires a hospitalization of at least a three-day stay. The pathogenic organisms are similar as is the treatment.