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Thread: Debridement vs operative debridement

  1. #1

    Default Debridement vs operative debridement

    AAPC: Back to School
    We bill for wound care and some patient's have debridement in the outpatient setting at the hospiatal and others are admitted for debridement and these reports will come over stating "operative debridement" vs just debridement on the outpatient reports. Is there a difference in coding an office debridement and an operative debridement?

    Thanks in advance

    Donna Gullikson

  2. #2


    Donna. I am Phil and I attend coding class regularly and am scheduled to test in December. My instructional book in which I will be quoting is the 2010 Step-by-Step medical coding by Carol J. Buck.

    "Debridement is the removal of infected, contaminated, damaged, devitalized, necrotic, or Foreign tissue from a wound. Debridement promotes wound healing by reducing sources of infection and other mechanical impediments to healing. The goal of debridement is to cleanse the wound, reduce bacterial contamination, and provide an optimal environment for wound healing or possible surgical intervention. The usual end point of debridement is removal of pathological tissue and/or foreign material until healthy tissueis exposed. Debridement techniques include, amoung others, sharp and blunt dissection, curettement, scrubbing, and forceful irrigation. Surgical instruments may include a scrub brush, irrigation device, electrocautery, laser, sharp curettet, forceps, scissors, burr, or scalpel. Prior to debridement, determination of the extent of an ulcer/wound may be aided by the use of probes to determine the depth and to disclose abscess and sinus tracts."

    It was explained to me that operative debridement pertains to the surgical intervention of the "cleansing". So in lamemann's terms it depends on the extent of the debridement procedure. If it is a simple in and out debridement procedure it might state "debridement," and if it requires surgical intervention (described above) it could be reported as "operative."

    I hope this answers your question


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Coastal Coders


    We bill for wound care as well. For the physician. Not the facility.
    The only difference we see is that we cannot bill supplies when the service is performed at the hospital. We can bill for the application of the supplies but not the supplies themselves. As far as 11040/41 go we bill those the same.

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