Proper Usage of Electrical Stimulation

January 4th, 2018 - Find-A-Code
Categories:   CPT® Coding   HCPCS Coding   Physical Medicine|Physical Therapy   Documentation Guidelines  

According to CGS Administrators, most non-wound care electrical stimulation treatment provided in therapy should be billed as G0283 as it is often provided in a supervised manner (after skilled application by the qualified professional/auxiliary personnel) without constant, direct contact required throughout the treatment.

97032 is a constant attendance electrical stimulation modality that requires direct (one- on-one) manual patient contact by the qualified professional/auxiliary personnel. Because the use of a constant, direct contact electrical stimulation modality is less frequent, documentation should clearly describe the type of electrical stimulation provided to justify billing 97032 versus G0283.
Types of electrical stimulation that may require constant attendance and should be billed as 97032 when continuous presence by the qualified professional/auxiliary personnel is required include the following examples.

  • Direct motor point stimulation delivered via a probe
  • Instructing a patient in the use of a home TENS unit

o    Once a trial of TENS has been done in the clinic over 1-2 visits and the patient has had a favorable response, the patient can usually be taught to use a TENS unit for pain control in 1-2 visits. Consequently, it is inappropriate for a patient to continue treatment for pain with a TENS unit in the clinic setting.

o    Note that CPT code 64550 is for application of surface (transcutaneous) neurostimulator and is an operative/postoperative code. Use of this code would seldom fall under a therapy plan of treatment.


  • Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) or Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) while performing a therapeutic exercise or functional activity may be billed as 97032. Do not bill for CPT codes 97110, 97112, 97116 or 97530 for the same time period.

o    Use for Walking in Patients with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) the type of NMES that is used to enhance the ability to walk of SCI patients is commonly referred to as functional electrical stimulation (FES). See the section on CPT code 97116 for information on coverage for this use of NMES. (CMS Publication 100-03, Medicare National Coverage Determinations (NCD) Manual, section 160.12)


  • Ultrasound with electrical stimulation provided concurrently (e.g., Medcosound, Rich-Mar devices), should be billed as ultrasound (97035). Do not bill for both ultrasound and electrical stimulation for the same time period.
  • If providing an electrical stimulation modality that is typically considered supervised (G0283) to a patient requiring constant attendance for safety reasons due to cognitive deficits, do not bill as 97032. This type of monitoring may be done by non-skilled personnel.

Non-Implantable Pelvic Floor Electrical Stimulation (CMS Publication 100-03, Medicare National Coverage Determinations (NCD) Manual, section 230.8.)

  • Non-implantable pelvic floor electrical stimulators provide neuromuscular electrical stimulation through the pelvic floor with the intent of strengthening and exercising pelvic floor musculature.

Stimulation delivered by vaginal or anal probes connected to an external pulse generator may be billed as 97032. Stimulation delivered via electrodes should be billed as G0283.

  • The methods of pelvic floor electrical stimulation vary in location, stimulus frequency (Hz), stimulus intensity or amplitude (mA), pulse duration (duty cycle), treatments per day, number of treatment days per week, length of time for each treatment session, overall time period for device use, and between clinic and home settings. In general, the stimulus frequency and other parameters are chosen based on the patient's clinical diagnosis.
  • Pelvic floor electrical stimulation with a non-implantable stimulator is covered for the treatment of stress and/or urge urinary incontinence in cognitively intact patients who have failed a documented trial of pelvic muscle exercise (PME) training.
  • A failed trial of PME training is defined as no clinically significant improvement in urinary continence after completing 4 weeks of an ordered plan of pelvic muscle exercises designed to increase periurethral muscle strength.
  • The patient's medical record must indicate that the patient receiving a non- implantable pelvic floor electrical stimulator was cognitively intact, motivated, and had failed a documented trial of pelvic muscle exercise (PME) training.

Utilization of electrical stimulation may be necessary during the initial phase of treatment, but there must be an improvement in function. These modalities should be utilized with appropriate therapeutic procedures to effect continued improvement. Note: Coverage for this indication is limited to those patients where the nerve supply to the muscle is intact, including brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves and other non- neurological reasons for disuse are causing the atrophy (e.g., post-casting or splinting of a limb, and contracture due to soft tissue scarring).
Documentation must clearly support the medical necessity of electrical stimulation more than 12 visits as adjunctive therapy or for muscle retraining.

Some patients can be trained in the use of a home muscle stimulator for retraining weak muscles. Only 1-2 visits should be necessary to complete the training. Once training is completed, this procedure should not be billed as a treatment modality in the clinic.

Non-covered Indications

  • Electrical Stimulation (CPT code 97032) used in the treatment of facial nerve paralysis, commonly known as Bell’s palsy (CMS Manual 100-03, Medicare National Coverage Determinations (NCD) Manual, section 160.15)
  • Electrical Stimulation (CPT code 97032) used to treat motor function disorders such as multiple sclerosis (CMS Manual 100-03, Medicare National Coverage Determinations (NCD) Manual, section 160.2)
  • Electrical Stimulation (CPT code 97032) for the treatment of strokes when it is determined there is no potential for restoration of function
  • Electrical Stimulation when it is the only intervention utilized purely for strengthening of a muscle with at least Fair graded strength. Most muscle strengthening is more efficiently accomplished through a treatment program that includes active procedures such as therapeutic exercises and therapeutic activities.

Supportive Documentation Recommendations for 97032

  • Type of electrical stimulation used (do not limit the description to “manual” or “attended”)
  • Area(s) being treated
  • If used for muscle weakness, objective rating of strength and functional deficits 
  • If used for pain include pain rating, location of pain, effect of pain on function

See codes G0281-G0283 for instructions regarding supervised electrical stimulation


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