Billing for fish hook removal

akbiller

Contributor
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Anchorage, Alaska
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I know that you cannot bill a procedure for fish hook removal unless the physician makes an incision. Without an incision you would bill an E/M. My question is if the physician uses an 18 guage needle to enlarge the hole already made by the fish hook can this be considered an incision? He inserts the needle in the hole with the fish hook and wiggles it around until the hole is big enough to pull the fish hook out of. He cuts the barb off the fish hook first whenever possible. Rarely are sutures needed to close the wound. He says that the edges of the needle are very sharp and he considers this making an incision. I do not consider this an incision but I need to know for sure whether it is or isn't. There are several definitions of incision and they do not all specifically state that an incision must be made with a scalpal. Some say a sharp instrument/object. Can anyone help with this?
 

Mojo

Expert
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498
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Don't you love the gray areas? :) An 18 gauge needle is a sharp instrument and we give credit for an incision if the provider documents cuts, incises, lifts the roof off of (as in an abscess)... with the needle. I think the wiggling/enlarging is a bit of a stretch; if he wants to bill an incision, he should be more clear and document an incision.
 
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