The 24 modifier is used to identify the unrelated E/M in the postoperative period.
The question is "what is unrelated?"
For a long time (back when I was first coding) anything that wasn't routine postoperative care merited the -24 modifier. So infections got a -24 modifier because that was not considered "routine" postoperative care.
But Medicare will not pay for any infections, including those that require a re-hospitalization for IV antibiotics - UNLESS there is a return to the OR. And even then Medicare will pay only for the procedure, not for any of the E/M.
Medicaid and several commercial insurers are following Medicare's lead on this issue.
If your documentation supports that the E/M is unrelated to the procedure and you are still in the postoperative period, then use the -24 modifier. Be prepared for the possibility of a denial and the need to appeal.
Hope that helps.
F Tessa Bartels, CPC, CEMC
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