November 25, 2013 | | Comments 1
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AMA and its quest for ICD-10 delay

You may remember that the American Medical Association (AMA) has been pushing for an end to ICD-10 since 2012. During its recent House of Delegates meeting, the AMA reinforced its position that ICD-10 implementation should be delayed by two years. It initially put forth that resolution in June.Cadusius

The AMA already helped force CMS to delay implementation of ICD-10 from October 1, 2013, to October 1, 2014. That may not have been a great thing for physicians, according to Paul Weygandt, MD, JD, MPH, MBA, CCS, vice president of physician services for J.A. Thomas and Associates in Atlanta.

“The worst thing for physicians was that the AMA delayed ICD-10 by one year,” he told AHIMA Convention attendees. That gave physicians the idea that the AMA will stop ICD-10 implementation again.

How do you get physicians on board for ICD-10 when the AMA is not? Remind them that ICD-10 doesn’t change the way they practice medicine. They will still treat patients the same way they do now. We’re just asking them to document a little more.

Physicians are likely documenting much of the necessary information already, such as laterality, because it’s good patient care. The physician wants to know where an injury occurred so when the patient comes back for a follow up, he or she is checking the correct area.

ICD-10 is also written in more clinical terms and less coder speak, which means docs will need to learn less than coders. For example, many pulmonologists already describe asthma as:

  • Mild intermittent
  • Mild persistent
  • Moderate persistent
  • Severe persistent

ICD-10-CM now uses those terms.

For myocardial infarctions, physicians have been documenting STEMI and non-STEMI for years, Weygandt says. In ICD-10-CM, coders will be able to report it that way.

Don’t tell physicians what they need to document. Tell them what they aren’t documenting. Give them a (figurative) pat on the head for the things they are doing correctly. And ask them if they would accept their documentation if it came from a resident.

“Good documentation for ICD-10 is what we should be teaching residents because it’s good clinical care,” Weygandt says.

ICD-10 is coming, whether the AMA wants it to or not. Work with your physicians now so you are all ready for the change.

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Filed Under: Coding


Michelle A. Leppert About the Author: Michelle A. Leppert, CPC, is a senior managing editor for JustCoding provides coders, coding supervisors, and health information management (HIM) directors with educational resources to test their coding knowledge, employ correct coding guidelines, and stay abreast of CMS transmittals.

In addition, she writes and edits the HCPro publication, Briefings on Coding Compliance Strategies. Email her at

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  1. As an ICD-10 Implementation Coordinator – I can tell you that many of our staff have it in their heads that it isn’t a big deal, probably will be delayed – why waste their time. I can say that for all the time we have put into this plan, and for the money we are about to spend for training – it would be extremely upsetting if the date is postponed again. No one will take it seriously…..including myself.

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