March 2nd, 2017 - Chris Woolstenhulme, CPC, CMRS
The official guidelines for ICD-10-CM have very specific rules in determining principal diagnosis. However, it is imperative to note that it is necessary to be aware of the coding conventions in the ICD-10-CM Tabular List and Alphabetic Index as they take precedence over the official coding guidelines. Also, consider the following:
- Review the entire record to determine the specific reason for the encounter and the conditions being treated.
- Codes for symptoms, signs, and ill-defined conditions from Chapter 18 are not to be used as a principal diagnosis when a related definitive diagnosis has been established.
- When there are two or more interrelated conditions (such as diseases in the same ICD-10-CM chapter or manifestations characteristically associated with a certain disease) potentially meeting the definition of principal diagnosis, either condition may be sequenced first, unless the circumstances of the admission, the therapy provided, the Tabular List, or the Alphabetic Index indicate otherwise.
- In the unusual instance when two or more diagnoses equally meet the criteria for principal diagnosis as determined by the circumstances of admission, diagnostic workup and/or therapy provided, the Alphabetic Index, Tabular List, or any other coding guidelines do not provide sequencing direction, any one of the diagnoses may be sequenced first.
- Sequence as a principal, diagnose the condition, which after study occasioned the admission to the hospital, even though treatment may not have been carried out due to unforeseen circumstances.
- When the admission is for treatment of a complication resulting from surgery or other medical care, the complication code is sequenced as the principal diagnosis. If the complication is classified to the T80-T88 series, and the code lacks the necessary specificity in describing the complication, an additional code for the specific complication should be assigned.
For more information see ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting Section IV for outpatient coding and reporting.
If you have questions or comments about this article please contact us. Comments that provide additional related information may be added here by our Editors.
Latest articles: (any category)COVID Vaccine Coding Changes as of November 1, 2023October 26th, 2023 - Wyn Staheli
COVID vaccine changes due to the end of the PHE as of November 1, 2023 are addressed in this article.Medicare Guidance Changes for E/M ServicesOctober 11th, 2023 - Wyn Staheli
2023 brought quite a few changes to Evaluation and management (E/M) services. The significant revisions as noted in the CPT codebook were welcome changes to bring other E/M services more in line with the changes that took place with Office or Other Outpatient Services a few years ago. As part of CMS’ Medicare Learning Network, the “Evaluation and Management Services Guide” publication was finally updated as of August 2023 to include the changes that took place in 2023. If you take a look at the new publication (see references below),....Can We Score Interpretation of an EKG Towards E/M Medical Decision Making?October 10th, 2023 - Aimee Wilcox
When EKGs are performed in the facility setting or even in the physician's office, what are the requirements for reporting the service and who gets credit for scoring data points for Evaluation and Management (E/M) medical decision making (MDM)? Let's take a look at a few coding scenarios related to EKG services to get a better understanding of why this can be problematic.Accurately Reporting Signs and Symptoms with ICD-10-CM CodesOctober 5th, 2023 - Aimee Wilcox
Coders often find themselves unsure of when to report a sign or symptom code documented in the medical record. Some coders find their organization has an EHR that requires a working diagnosis, which is usually a sign or symptom, be entered to order a test or diagnostic study or image. Understanding the guidelines surrounding when signs and symptoms should be reported is the first step in correct coding so let's take a look at some scenarios.The 2024 ICD-10-CM Updates Include New Codes for Reporting Metabolic Disorders and Insulin ResistanceSeptember 19th, 2023 - Aimee Wilcox
Diabetes is a chronic disease that just seems to consistently be increasing instead of improving resulting in a constant endeavor by medical researchers to identify causal effects and possible treatments. One underlying or precipitating condition that scientists have identified as a precipitating factor in the development of diabetes is insulin resistance, which is a known metabolic disorder. As data becomes available through claims reporting, additional code options become possible with ICD-10-CM.Documenting and Reporting Postoperative VisitsSeptember 12th, 2023 - Aimee Wilcox
Sometimes we receive questions regarding documentation requirements for specific codes or coding requirements and we respond with information and resources to support our answers. The following question was recently submitted: Are providers required to report postoperative services on claims using 99024, especially if there is no payment for that service? What documentation is required if you are reporting an unrelated Evaluation and Management (E/M) service by the same physician during the postoperative period? Understanding Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and ICD-10-CM CodingAugust 22nd, 2023 - Aimee Wilcox
Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD for short, is a disease that impacts millions of Americans on a weekly basis. Symptoms are uncomfortable, as are some of the tests used to diagnose it, but understanding the disease, tests, and treatments helps us better understand how to code the disease using ICD-10-CM codes.