Electronic Coder

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I'm a brand new Pathology and Clinical Lab Coder and the first ever of my department. As I evaluate tools / resources I may need, I find I have a question. I'm wondering if I should purchase either the AAPC coder or the Pathology Service Coding Handbook by APF (American Pathology Foundation) or is there utility in obtaining both resources?

Secondly, does anyone know of a mentorship program, specifically for new Path and Clinical Lab coders?

Thanks in advance!


Brainerd, MN
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Hi TammyMarie,
As a coder (pathology/laboratory Sept 2012) I have never been offered anything beyond the current CPT, ICD, & HCPCS book from my company. I cannot tell you how many countless hours I researched after "work was done" to compile the information I have.
Are you close in distance to your facility or are remote? If you are close; I would seriously ask for a tour of the facility. They probably (from experience) will address blocks, frozen sections, pap smears, and etcetera to delight a pathology coder. The pathology team (no matter what health firm you work for) simply loves you.
Most pathology providers do not hear any response from anyone (when, in fact they REALLY do). Come on - we all know RVU's are on the line. If you are simply questioning a Level III due to the "new acquisition person assigning it" ~ when it was actually a Level IV because it wasn't a skin cyst but a benign neoplasm instead it is time to step up and ask those questions.
After meeting our Medical Director with my immediate supervisor and absolutely loving her and explaining their was a problem with their charges, Hmm - to state otherwise was a mild blow. Soon thereafter they simply wanted to hear what I was reviewing and why I didn't feel the charge they populated was correct or incorrect. I cannot count the times charges were corrected. Very humbling (since I was told on our initial visit that they don't make mistakes in their department).
Advice: Research hard, the information is out there, I have tons of it. Keep atop of NCCI guidelines yearly (free), and simply build rapport with your pathology team. They are counting on us as the final "key master" to ensure their information (procedures ) are correct as we code it to ensure the Level of service(s) match their charges. When in doubt, please simply ask. Not that I believe that this specimen C should be a Level IV instead of Level V .... but exactly why...
You will be a fantastic pathology coder!
Review, research, and when in doubt please ask.
Thanks for listening,
Pathology Coder (Fall 2012-May 2018)