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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.

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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]

Guest Post: Addressing unspecified codes

Rose Dunn

Rose Dunn, MBA, RHIA, CPA, FACHE, FHFMA, CHPS

By Rose T. Dunn, MBA, RHIA, CPA, FACHE, FHFMA, CHPS

When CMS told the American Medical Association (AMA) physicians could have a one-year grace period to become comfortable with ICD-10-CM/PCS coding systems, they made a bad decision. The agreement allowed providers to be less conscientious about their diagnosis coding, leaving them to focus only on the first three characters of the code for medical necessity purposes. In actuality, some providers took the compromise as a license to map their superbill codes and submit “not otherwise specified” (NOS) and “not elsewhere classified” (NEC) codes to all payers.

Matthew Menendez of White Plume Technologies estimated in 2016 the average rate of unspecified code use at the time was 31.5%.

“Payers want the more detailed diagnosis information available in ICD-10. The reason that both government and commercial payers advocated for the migration to ICD-10 and invested millions of dollars to rewrite their adjudication processes was for the granular diagnosis data on their insured patient populations. Payers want to leverage detailed ICD-10 codes to drive down the cost of healthcare in the United States and if the provider community does not supply this data they will begin to deny claims,” Menendez said.

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Guest Post: Improving the selection of a principal diagnosis

Commeree_Adrienne_web_106x121

Adrienne Commeree, CPC, CPMA, CCS, CEMC, CPIP

by Adrienne Commeree, CPC, CPMA, CCS, CEMC, CPIP

The selection of the principal diagnosis is one of the most important steps when coding an inpatient record. The diagnosis reflects the reason the patient sought medical care, and the principal diagnosis can drive reimbursement.

But while code selection may seem fairly straightforward in some cases, it can seem like throwing a dart at a board in others. Multiple factors must be considered and reviewed before a coder can assign a diagnosis as principal. There may be many reasons a patient went to the hospital, and multiple conditions may have been treated during that patient’s stay. Because of these complicating factors, relying solely on a software program to discern the principal diagnosis might lead to errors. A thorough review of the documentation, along with a solid understanding of the Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, instructional notes, and Coding Clinic issues, is imperative.

The ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting state:

The circumstances of inpatient admission always govern the selection of principal diagnosis. The principal diagnosis is defined in the Uniform Hospital Discharge Data Set (UHDDS) as “that condition established after study to be chiefly responsible for occasioning the admission of the patient to the hospital for care.”

The UHDDS collects data on patients related to race and ethnicity and is issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its definitions are used by acute care hospitals to report inpatient data elements that factor in the DRG classification system, which is how the hospital receives reimbursement for the inpatient admission.

Coders and CDI professionals must review all the documentation by the physician or any qualified healthcare practitioner who, per the coding guidelines, is legally accountable for establishing the patient’s diagnosis.

Parts of the medical record include the history and physical, progress notes, orders, consultation notes, operative reports, and discharge summary. While reading through a provider’s documentation, coders must ask themselves: “Is this condition requiring any diagnostic evaluation, therapeutic work, treatment, etc.?”

Once a medical record has been completely reviewed, coders must decide which code identifies the reason the patient was admitted and treated: What condition “bought the bed”?

But our work isn’t done after that. Are there any instructional notes or chapter-specific guidelines that give sequencing direction for coding? For example, if a patient is treated for decompensated diastolic congestive heart failure and also has hypertension, instructional notes within Chapter 9 of the ICD-10-CM manual, Diseases of the Circulatory System, give sequencing directives for the coding of these conditions.

“Decompensated,” according to Coding Clinic, Second Quarter 2013, indicates that there has been a flare-up (acute phase) of a chronic condition. I50.33 is the ICD-10-CM code for acute-on-chronic congestive heart failure. However, before assigning that code as the principal diagnosis, you must check the instructional notes directly under category I50 for heart failure. These notes, usually printed in red, give sequencing guidance for codes in this category.

Per the Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, “code first” informs coders that these conditions have both an underlying etiology and multiple body system manifestations due to that etiology:

“For such conditions, the ICD-10-CM has a coding convention that requires the underlying condition be sequenced first, if applicable, followed by the manifestation. Wherever such a combination exists, there is a ’use additional code’ note at the etiology code, and a ‘code first’ note at the manifestation code. These instructional notes indicate the proper sequencing order of the codes, etiology followed by manifestation.

To code for the hypertension, the instructional notes guide the coder to reference code I11.0 (hypertensive heart disease with heart failure). More instructional guidance following the code helps the coder correctly assign the principal diagnosis for this patient.

But we’re still not done. Are there any issues of Coding Clinic that give more information regarding the assignment of a principal diagnosis? In reference to the example above, congestive heart failure with hypertension, documentation guidelines for reporting these two conditions have changed for 2017.

The Third Quarter 2016 Coding Clinic reiterates the documentation requirements and sequencing by stating that “the classification presumes a causal relationship between hypertension and heart involvement.”

The preceding example is one of many. A coder can have more than one diagnosis that fits the definition of a principal diagnosis, or possibly two diagnoses that are contrasting (either/or). If there are no chapter-specific guidelines for sequencing (is the patient pregnant? Does the patient have an HIV-related illness?), then refer to Section II, subsections B, C, D, and E, in the ICD-10-CM coding guidelines.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in JustCoding. Commeree is a coding regulatory specialist at HCPro in Middleton, Massachusetts. Contact her at acommeree@hcpro.com. Opinions expressed are that of the author and do not necessarily represent HCPro, ACDIS, or any of its subsidiaries.

 

Guest Post: Creating an inpatient coding compliance plan

Rose Dunn

Rose Dunn, MBA, RHIA, CPA, FACHE, FHFMA, CHPS

by Rose T. Dunn, MBA, RHIA, CPA, FACHE, FHFMA, CHPS

To limit exposure to claim denials and external reviews, the best safeguard for a facility is a robust, effective internal coding compliance policy, plan, and program.

Begin by reviewing any existing coding policies and procedures to determine whether they are consistent with the organization’s compliance plan, as well as the latest Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting. If your department lacks compliance policies and procedures, excellent resources are available at JustCoding, ACDIS, AHIMA and the Hospital Corporation of America.

A facility’s coding compliance plan may be a subsection of the policy. If you format your compliance plan as a subsection, the document should be labeled “coding compliance policy and plan.” The plan component should be much more detailed and include the specifics of what, when, and how often. Each organization should tailor its coding compliance plan to its organization.

When developing a new coding compliance plan, managers should begin by asking these questions:

  • Why am I establishing a plan?
  • What will I review?
  • How will I select a sample?
  • How will I assess accuracy?
  • What action will I take when the results are known?
  • How will I monitor progress?

The coding manager should collaborate with the compliance officer in developing the plan. Some components that should be considered when you create your plan are:

Purpose: The purpose of the XYZ Hospital Compliance Plan is to improve the accuracy and integrity of patient data, ensure minimal variation in coding practices, serve as a conduit to improve provider documentation in the electronic patient record, and support XYZ Hospital’s ability to receive its entitled reimbursement for the services it and its providers provide.

Expectation: Staff (employees and, when applicable, contracted staff) will strive to maintain the highest level of professional and ethical standards in the performance of their coding duties. Staff will be trained and oriented in all applicable federal and state laws and regulations that apply to coding and documentation as relates to their positions.

Adherence to these guidelines is imperative. Where any questions or uncertainty regarding these requirements exists, it is the responsibility of the employee to seek guidance from a certified coding specialist, health information administrator, or another qualified coding professional. Staff will be familiar with prohibited and unethical conduct that relates to coding and billing as outlined in the facility compliance plan. Staff will comply with AHIMA’s Code of Ethics.

Education:

  • All coders, billers, and providers will receive orientation and training in the fundamentals of compliant coding and billing. Continuing education will be provided in the form of handouts, memos, journals, in-services, and formal education as available and approved. To keep up with changes in regulatory requirements, coding changes, and proper coding procedures, it is the staff member’s responsibility to further his or her knowledge by reading all handouts, memos, and journals provided, and actively participating in available in-services and formal education workshops.
  • All coders, billers, and providers will receive training in coding, documentation, and billing compliance issues on an annual basis or more frequently as need dictates. The training will be coordinated by the coding compliance subcommittee in conjunction with or in addition to training provided by the compliance office.

Coding resources: Coding staff shall have access to the following resources to facilitate their coding duties:

  • Encoder
  • Computer with dual monitors
  • Coding books: ICD-10-CM for diagnoses and ICD-10-PCS for inpatient procedures; other reference materials will be maintained in the coding manager’s office

Coding conventions and guidelines: The guidelines and conventions to be followed for codes to be reported on claims will be:

  • Coding Clinic published by the American Hospital Association
  • Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting published by CMS and the National Center for Health Statistics

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in JustCoding. Dunn is a past president of the American Health Information Management Association and recipient of its 1997 Distinguished Member and 2008 Legacy awards. In 2011, she served as the interim CEO of AHIMA and received a Distinguished Service Award from its board of directors. Dunn is the chief operating officer of First Class Solutions, Inc., a health information management consulting firm based in St. Louis. Opinions expressed are that of the author and do not necessarily represent HCPro, ACDIS, or any of its subsidiaries. This article is excerpted from JustCoding’s Practical Guide to Coding Management.

 

Guest Post: Relevant ICD-10 code proposals for CDI and coders

Allen Frady

Allen Frady, RN, BSN, CCDS, CCS

By Allen Frady, RN, BSN, CCDS, CCS

Editor’s note: The CMS ICD-10 Coordination and Maintenance Committee (CMC) met on March 7 and March 8 to discuss proposed code changes to ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS. The committee is a federal committee comprised of representatives from CMS and the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The committee approves code changes, develops errata, addenda, and any other modification to the code sets. These code changes were discussed in hope of being amended in the 2018 code update, active October 1.

Among the many proposed changes to the code set, I noted 16 of particular interest to CDI specialists and coders. Remember, nothing is final until the September meeting of the CDC Coordination and Maintenance Committee(CMC), and of course, the CMS finalization.

AMI

Some of the most relevant talking points include possible changes related to heart disease. First, the CMC proposes reclassification of an unspecified acute myocardial infarction (AMI) to I21.9 AMI, including “unspecified myocardial infarction (acute) no otherwise specified (NOS).” Currently, “unspecified AMI” defaults to an STEMI. CDI specialists frequently prod physicians for additional specificity to ensure NSTEMI’s are not inadvertently reported as STEMI’s as it also affect quality standards.

Additionally, an unexpected proposal given the recent AHA Coding Clinic, First Quarter 2017, CMC proposes a new code I21.A1, Myocardial infarction type II (also called a Type II MI). Coding Clinic previously directed Type II MI to be coded as an NSTEMI. CMC’s proposal includes myocardial infarction due to demand ischemia and myocardial infarction secondary to ischemic imbalance as inclusion terms. The new proposed code would have a “code also underlying cause, if known” instructional note in the Tabular Index. Examples of precipitating events included in the proposal are:

  • anemia
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • heart failure
  • tachycardia
  • renal failure

There are, of course, other possible causes and the list provided is not intended to be comprehensive. This hopefully will circumvent the frustration CDI and coding professionals have had with the lack of an index entry for “Type II MI” for the last several years.

Other classifications of MIs exist. There are five in total and among the new code proposals for “other myocardial infarction type” specifies types 3, 4 and 5 as inclusion terms.

End-stage heart failure

Another interesting suggestion for the CDC comes from its recommendation for a new code for end-stage heart failure I50.84, to be used in conjunction with other heart failure codes. This represents potential for assignment to a higher level of severity within both the APR- and MS-DRG systems. There are also new inclusion notes for end-stage heart failure to be reported for the American College of Cardiology (ACC) stage “D” if the physician only writes “stage D heart failure,” it can be coded as end-stage heart failure. Furthermore, new inclusion terms direct the coder that diastolic heart failure and diastolic left ventricular heart failure include heart failure with preserved ejection fraction or with normal effusion. The same goes for systolic heart failure and the term reduced ejection fraction. Additional new codes related to heart failure include:

  • Acute right heart failure (I50.811) with an inclusion term of “acute ISOLATED RIGHT HEART FAILURE”
  • Biventricular heart failure (I50.82)
  • High output heart failure (I50.83)

I was somewhat unfamiliar with high output heart failure so for now, this reference from the National Institutes of Health will have to do:

“The syndrome of systemic congestion in a high output state is traditionally referred to as high output heart failure. However, the term is a misnomer because the heart in these conditions is normal, capable of generating very high cardiac output. The underlying problem in high output failure is a decrease in the systemic vascular resistance that threatens the arterial blood pressure and causes activation of neurohormones, resulting in an increase in salt and water retention by the kidney. Many of the high output states are curable conditions, and because they are associated with decreased peripheral vascular resistance, the use of vasodilator therapy for treatment of congestion may aggravate the problem.” 

Surgical codes

The CMC proposed a number of updates related to surgical wound infections. There are several new proposals for obstetrics infection codes and there were also proposals for other wound infection codes, such as:

  • 41, infection following a procedure, superficial surgical site which accounts for a stitch abscess.
  • Deep incisional site under T81.42
  • Intra-abdominal abscess under T81.43
  • Slow healing surgical wounds, covered in the includes notes for T81.84, NON-healing surgical wounds per changes to the inclusion notes.

Additional recommendations

CMC has a few other suggestions CDI and coding professional need to note, such as:

  1. Moving late effects of cerebral vascular accident (CVA) from an Excludes I to an Excludes 2 category, which seems appropriate in light of Coding Clinic, Fourth Quarter 2016, p. 40, as well as the 2017 Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, advice to override the Excludes 1 note and code late effects when present in tandem with a new current stroke, anyway.
  2. A new code for immunocompromised status which includes terms for immunodeficiency status and immunosuppressed status, Z78.2. ICD-10 code Z78.21 covers immunocompromised status due to conditions classified elsewhere such as HIV or cancer, and Z78.22 immunocompromised due to drugs. In the past, immunocompromised status did provide for additional severity and it’s role in risk adjustment methodologies could expand.
  3. Proposed codes for the pediatric coma scale which could eventually provide some additional severity for cases with catastrophic neurological compromise. In this author’s opinion, these codes would be a welcome additional to pediatric hospitals seeking to properly adjust for their quality, outcomes and mortality metrics.
  4. Codes for nicotine dependence via electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-sigs, anyone?).
  5. Proposals for alcohol abuse, in remission. Also noteworthy, the term “Alcohol use disorder” seems to fall under the codes for alcohol dependence per newly proposed inclusion terms. The same proposals are provided for opioid abuse, in remission as well as cannabis, cocaine, sedatives, etc.

Editor’s note: Allen Frady, RN, BSN, CCDS, CCS, CDI education specialist for BLR Healthcare in Middleton, Massachusetts, answered this question. Contact him at AFrady@hcpro.com. For information regarding CDI Boot Camps, click here. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of ACDIS or its advisory board.

Guest Post: Postoperative complication coding and value-based purchasing

by Ghazal Irfan, RHIA

Achieving compliant coding

Postoperative complication coding guidelines continue to cause difficulties for coders and CDI professionals. So, let’s analyze the steps needed to ensure complete, accurate, and compliant coding.

The first step in compliance is defining a postoperative complication. In general, a postoperative complication is an unanticipated outcome (in the form of a condition or a disease) that develops following an illness, treatment, or procedure.

For example, a 60-year-old female comes in for a herniorrhaphy (hernia repair). She has a past medical history of hypertension and morbid obesity with body mass index greater than 40. She smokes and has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Surgery goes well; however, post-surgery, the patient has a hard time weaning off of the ventilator and is immediately given inhaler treatments and placed on BiPAP. After a couple of incentive spirometry sessions and inhaler treatments, the patient feels better, and she is discharged home the following day.

The body of the operative report documents the patient’s inability to breathe on her own due to “acute respiratory insufficiency following extubation.” The header of the operative report, however, documents no complications. How should acute respiratory insufficiency following extubation be coded? Should it be coded as a “postoperative complication,” or as an “acute respiratory insufficiency?”

The ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting states that “code assignment is based on the provider’s documentation of the relationship between the condition and the care or procedure. The guideline extends to any complications of care, regardless of the chapter the code is located in.”

The Guidelines go on to explain that “it is important to note that not all conditions that occur during or following medical care or surgery are classified as complications. There must be a cause-and-effect relationship between the care provided and the condition, and an indication in the documentation that it is a complication. Query the provider for clarification if the complication is not clearly documented.”

Keeping these rules in mind, a coder cannot report the diagnosis as a postoperative complication due to the legal ramifications of these codes, and due to the conflicting documentation: acute respiratory insufficiency following extubation versus no complication.

When to query

While deciding on a secondary diagnosis, coders and CDI specialists need to ask questions like:

  • “Was the condition clinically evaluated, tested, and treated?”
  • “Did the condition result in extended length of stay?”
  • “Did the condition require increased nursing care?”

Patients who are smokers with COPD and morbid obesity have a hard time clearing their lungs of carbon dioxide and need a little help to get the gas exchange going. Since a coder/CDI specialist is not a doctor and cannot assume a cause-and-effect relationship, the coding guidelines will direct them to query the physician regarding postoperative complication.

The following query form can be used for any postoperative complication clarification and should be made part of the legal medical record.

query

Chances are, an inexperienced coder will look at the operative report, assign the postoperative complication code as not present on admission (POA-N), and drop the chart. Such an assignment negatively affects the facility’s quality outcomes report since postoperative complication codes with POA N are counted as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s patient safety indicators. A seasoned coder/CDI specialist, however, would submit a query and ask for clarification. Accurate, complete, and compliant coding can only be achieved when coders and CDI specialists have leadership support and physician buy-in. Coders need education on the significance of reaching out to physicians when coding postoperative complications, and when documentation is conflicting or inconsistent, even though the DRG stays the same.

Also, managers should not penalize coders for holding charts or failing to meet productivity benchmarks when pursuing a clarification. Code assignment affects reimbursement, quality outcome reporting under the VBP program, and academic research programs. Working collaboratively—coders, CDI professionals, and physicians—can assist facilities in gathering the most complete and accurate data sets, which will result in valid, ethical, and reliable quality outcomes reporting.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in JustCoding. Irfan is the coding compliance manager of hospital services for RevWorks AH-Corp and works with her team to ensure revenue cycle compliance. She holds a degree in health information management and is pursuing a master’s degree in biomedical informatics at Oregon Health and Science University. Opinions expressed are that of the author and do not represent HCPro or ACDIS.

Guest Post: Your CDI team’s role in pneumonia value-based outcomes, part 2

Shannon Newell

Shannon Newell, RHIA, CCS

by Shannon Newell, RHIA, CCS

Pneumonia as a principal diagnosis

Consider the following case studies.

Case study 3: A patient with history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) presents to the ER with complaints of a low-grade fever of 99.8, and shortness of breath for two days with intermittent minimal wheezing. Chest x-ray is positive for a left upper lobe infiltrate. The patient’s white blood cell count is 10,000, lactic acid is 0.8, pulse is 88, and respiratory rate is 22 breaths per minute with a pulse oxygen level of 96% on 2 liters. The patient is admitted with COPD exacerbation and community-acquired pneumonia. The patient is started on IV antibiotics for treatment of the community-acquired pneumonia and receives bronchodilators every four hours without IV Solu-Medrol for treatment of the COPD. The patient’s condition improves, and in four days the patient is discharged on oral antibiotics. Documented diagnoses: Community-acquired pneumonia and COPD exacerbation. Pneumonia, unspecified organism is coded as the principal diagnosis. Both pneumonia and COPD exacerbation are clinically supported as principal diagnosis options. ICD-10 classification instructions require that patients with COPD with acute lower respiratory infections have COPD sequenced as the principal diagnosis. The correct selection of COPD as the principal diagnosis with pneumonia as a reported secondary, POA diagnosis would exclude the discharge from the readmission and mortality outcome cohorts.

Sepsis as a principal diagnosis: The inclusion of pneumonia as a secondary, POA diagnosis does not include a discharge in the outcome cohorts. This rule of thumb is typically true: Only cases with a principal diagnosis of pneumonia will “count.” There is one exception, however, and that is the reporting of pneumonia as a secondary, POA diagnosis when sepsis is reported as the principal diagnosis.

If sepsis is reported as the principal diagnosis and pneumonia is reported as a secondary, POA diagnosis, the discharge will be included in both the readmission and mortality outcome cohorts. In such cases, if—in addition to the secondary diagnosis of pneumonia—severe sepsis is present and reported as a secondary, POA diagnosis, the discharge is excluded from the cohort.

The evidence-based definitions adopted for use will impact how sepsis/severe sepsis codes are reported and, in turn, will impact performance for the pneumonia mortality and readmission outcomes.

Case study using the Sepsis-2 definition

  • Scenario:
    • A patient is admitted with pneumonia not elsewhere specified, with multiple clinical indicators of a systemic infection (temperature 102; respiratory rate 28 breaths per minute; white blood cell count 18,000 uL; pulse 120 beats per minute; lactic acid level 2.4 mmol/L).

The patient’s blood pressure, mental status, platelet count, bilirubin, and renal function are all within normal limits, and there is no evidence of delayed capillary refill.

  • Principal diagnosis:
    • Sepsis—if documented—would be reported as the principal diagnosis. (If not documented, a query would be recommended given the multiple clinical indicators of a systemic infection.)
    • Pneumonia would be reported as a secondary, POA diagnosis.
  • Pneumonia mortality/readmission cohorts:
    • The patient would be included in the cohorts.
    • An opportunity to exclude the discharge from the cohorts exists if Sepsis-2 criteria are used and severe sepsis is documented. (If not documented, a query would be recommended using the following clinical support: lactic acid level greater than the upper limits of laboratory normal (1 mmol/L).)

Case study using Sepsis-3 definition

  • Scenario:
    • Same as case study with the Sepsis-2 definition above.
  • Principal diagnosis:
    • If the Sepsis-3 definition is used, the clinical indicators in this patient do not meet sepsis definition requirements. This is because the elevated lactic acid level is not part of the Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score defining sepsis.
    • The principal diagnosis would be pneumonia. Sepsis and severe sepsis would not be reported.
  • Pneumonia mortality/readmission cohorts:
    • The patient would be included in the cohorts.

Discharge status of “against medical advice”

Whenever “against medical advice” is reported as the discharge status, that discharge is excluded from both the mortality and readmission cohorts. CDI teams typically focus on accuracy of discharge status due to its impact on accurate MS-DRG assignment and payments.

Editor’s note: This article was previously published in the Revenue Cycle Advisor. To read the first part of this article, click here. Newell was previously the director of CDI quality initiatives for Enjoin, but is now retired. Should you have any questions regarding this article, please email ACDIS Editor Linnea Archibald at larchibald@acdis.org. Opinions expressed are that of the author and do not represent HCPro or ACDIS.

 

Guest Post: Your CDI team’s role in pneumonia value-based outcomes, part 1

Shannon Newell

Shannon Newell, RHIA, CCS

by Shannon Newell, RHIA, CCS

The selection of a principal diagnosis, secondary diagnosis, present on admission (POA) status, and discharge status on each claim determines whether a pneumonia discharge will be included in Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program and Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program measures. And effective CDI reviews can capture this documentation.

Pneumonia as a principal diagnosis

CMS includes any discharges with the principal diagnosis of pneumonia (including aspiration pneumonia) in the mortality and readmission outcome measures. Some of these discharges are excluded for various reasons, for example, discharges with a reported discharge status of “against medical advice” are excluded from both measures. The final group of included discharges is referred to as the “cohort.”

Consider the following case studies.

Case study 1: A patient is admitted with pneumonia and acute respiratory failure requiring BiPAP with admission to the ICU along with IV antibiotics for treatment of the underlying pneumonia. Two principal diagnosis options exist–acute respiratory failure or pneumonia. Coding guidelines permit the selection of either option as the principal diagnosis. Today’s CDI teams typically select the option that results in the highest MS-DRG relative weight. Based on current MS-DRG relative weights, the pneumonia would result in the MS-DRG with the highest relative weight, and if it is selected, the discharge would be included in the readmission and mortality outcome cohorts.

Case study 2: A 65-year-old white male with known AIDS is admitted with pneumonia related to his underlying AIDS. Only the pneumonia is addressed during the hospital stay. Based on ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, AIDS/HIV infection (B20) would be reported as the principal diagnosis, and the HIV-related condition, pneumonia, would be reported as an additional diagnosis. The reporting of AIDS (B20) as principal diagnosis would remove the patient from the pneumonia readmission/mortality cohorts.

Summary

Performance on the CMS 30-day pneumonia readmission and mortality measures adjusts payments received for the Medicare and commercial patient population. By promoting and adopting evidence-based definitions; associated documentation requirements; accurate selection, sequencing, and assignment of POA status; and accurate reporting of discharge status, the CDI team plays a vital role in data integrity for claims-based quality measures.

Editor’s note: This article was previously published in the Revenue Cycle Advisor. Come back to the ACDIS Blog next week for the second part of the article. Newell was previously the director of CDI quality initiatives for Enjoin, but is now retired. Should you have any questions regarding this article, please email ACDIS Editor Linnea Archibald at larchibald@acdis.org. Opinions expressed are that of the author and do not represent HCPro or ACDIS.

 

Guest Post: It begins and ends in Patient Safety

Jocelyn Murray

Jocelyn Murray, RN, CCDS

By Jocelyn E. Murray, RN, CCDS

My CDI journey began at a level one trauma and teaching hospital in New Mexico. I accepted a permanent recruitment position and relocated out west. I shifted my career role from case management into CDI Implementation. There, I reported directly to the Chief Safety Officer, a well-respected medical professor for the university.

The CDI program (CDIP) implementation focus at the university hospital was on patient safety. How else would I be enticed to change scope of practice? I wanted to continue my nursing mission and help insure quality patient care. The CDIP aimed to:

  • Identify documentation omissions
  • Capture unexpected postoperative events
  • Clarify if the events were inclusions of care or unexpected outcomes
  • Identify any adverse effects during the patient encounter

The CDIP focused on improved quality by means of safety and risk identification linked to inpatient care. We provided lunch-and-learn sessions for insight to the medical and surgical provider teams. The forums reviewed quality and safety findings, provided documentation education and launched a query process as part of the CDI review to obtain documentation clarification necessary. The CDI specialist acted in a liaison role to utilization review (UR)/case management, quality, and nursing, and raised awareness of the identified untoward events that occurred during inpatient care. The CDIP brought awareness to the multidisciplinary team and new processes of documentation capture were established. New processes of identification for early intervention were also an indirect result of the awareness.

It’s now eight years later, and CDIP expansion led to a nationwide implementation of necessary CDI software tools, the improvement in financial impact tracking and reporting, capture of secondary comorbid (CC/MCC) diagnoses, and recognition of APR-DRG severity of illness/risk of mortality (SOI/ROM) indicators. All actions assisted in the practice’s more accurate capture of patient acuity and identifying the severity of care provided.

Nevertheless, the CDIP role in quality and safety recognition has never faltered. Quality documentation and Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) data transparency kept a light on patient safety, and the lost revenue impact associated has now been identified. Patient safety indicator (PSI) reviews remain a key component of CDIP practice for documentation excellence. PSIs have a critical impact on practice performance and the identity of PSI exclusions can protect facilities from financial loss. A wide variety of agencies offer public reports comparing both hospitals and physicians, allowing the savvy patient to choose only the safest, highest rated medical and surgical care. Does your program have a clear picture of the report and what impact it makes?

The impact of imprecise documentation with inaccurate coded data is measurable. Consider a random consultant audit of 14 facility records, four of the records identify likely inaccurately coded cases triggering established PSIs. The inaccuracy carries an error weight of greater than 28% on both the practice and provider quality statistics and corresponding revenue impact. CDIP PSI audits are critical; they increase compliance adjustment and the ROI. CDI specialists with quality training insight recognize the key diagnostic terms required to accurately clarify untoward event documentation in a safety audit. The list includes some of the following:

  • Inclusion
  • Exclusion
  • Clinically indicated
  • Necessary
  • Required
  • Inherent
  • Routinely expected

Patient safety queries and documentation integrity education will bring focus towards a greater understanding of the impact these specified diagnostic terms hold. A diagnosis identifying the condition as part of the post-operative and medical care will then also prevent a coded error.

In addition, PSI exclusions, as noted in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Quality Indicators Enhanced Version 5.0 reference, provide insight into diagnoses that do not meet PSI definition if combined with other acuity indicators. To learn more about quality and safety documentation and reporting, click here. You’ll find great material for provider education as well.

Editor’s note: Murray is a senior CDI consultant for HIM services at ComforceHealth. Her subject matter expertise includes consultative CDI services, training and education, and implementation of new programs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of ACDIS or its Advisory Board. Advice provided is general. Contact Murray at jocelyn.murray@comforcehealth.com.