HCPro: Separate fact from fiction with ICD-10-CM external cause codes

From the general media coverage of ICD-10 implementation, it would appear coders will be spending an overwhelming amount of time after October 1 trying to code scenarios such as whether a patient was injured by contact with a dolphin (W56.0-), sea lion (W56.1-), orca (W56.2-), or other marine mammal (W56.3-). However, unless coders are already reporting external causes in ICD-9-CM (E000-E999), they are unlikely to have to start using them after October 1. A recent HCPro article brought clarity to ICD-10-CM external cause codes by interviewing two AAPC experts: Betty Hovey, CPC, CPC-H, CPB, CPMA, CPC-I, CPCD and Shannon E. McCall, RHIA, CPC, CPC-I, CEMC, CCS, CCS-P, CCDS.
“External cause codes can never be reported as a first-listed or principal diagnosis, so a diagnosis code from sections A00.0 through T88.9 or Z00-Z99.8 is always required,” says Ms. McCall.
“When reporting external cause codes in ICD-10-CM, coders will have to keep in mind four factors,” says Ms. Hovey. “If it’s the first encounter for an injury, you’ll have to report what happened, where it happened, what you were doing when it happened, and whether it happened on the job.”
Read the full article.


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