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How to Bill ER

  1. Default How to Bill ER
    Medical Coding Books
    Pt. presents to the ER with rice stuck and he cannot swallow. Pt. is evaluated by the ER Dr. The ER Dr. is concerned there might be esophabeal food bolus.

    ER Wording is "Case was Discussed with Dr. (my surgeon) who is on call for surgery and he did present to see the patient."

    My surgeon suggested to the ER Dr. on the phone to have the patietn drink some Coca-Cola to see if this would allow the patient to either pass the food bolus or vomit it from his esophagus.

    When my surgeon arrived, patient stated after drinking the coca-cola he was now able to swallow. My surgeon states,"I spent 5 to 10 minutes discussing the situation with patient and his wife. I explained that he should have an elective upper GI endoscopy and possible dilatation to improve his symptoms and prevent this from happening in the future." Pt. was discharge home from ER.

    My question is what can my surgeon charge. Pt. is not Medicare. I don't think this is a consult as it doesn't sound to me that the ER is asking his opinion. And if I can charge either a consult or ER Visit, both need all three requirements to be met. There was NO exam done by my Dr. I can't charge by time, as he doesn't state that of the 5-10 minutes spent discussing, over 50% was spent in counseling.

    So, I don't know what I can charge for this visit.
    Help please.

  2. #2
    Nashville AAPC Chapter
    If the surgeon did not do an exam - this is required for all levels of consults and ER CPT codes - then it is not billable. Time documentation will not negate the fact that an exam is required, per the CPT guidelines all three key elements are required.

    Time documentation is just a contributing factor, it means it contributes, not substitutes.

  3. #3
    North Carolina
    If time is documented- based on the requirements- you could report on time. Per CPT Assistant example...

    An example may be helpful to demonstrate how to report physician services when more than 50% of the face-to-face physician/patient encounter is spent in providing counseling and/or coordination of care.

    Doctor "A" has been treating Mrs. Smith for type II diabetes, hypertension and obesity for several years. Prior to this appointment, blood work was performed to determine the status of her diabetes. The physician examines the patient for evidence of infection or circulatory problems. He asks the patient about her compliance to the 1200-calorie diet she has been on for the past six months. After reviewing these findings, the physician indicates to the patient that she will have to begin using insulin, since her diabetes is not responding to the current treatment (diet, exercise and oral hypoglycemic agent). The patient immediately begins to sob uncontrollably. She tells the physician this means she is going to die, because her grandmother got gangrene from this kind of diabetes and died from it.

    After calming the patient, Doctor "A" discusses insulin dependent diabetes with the patient and explains that using insulin is not a "death sentence;" He discusses diet, insulin administration, hypoglycemic reactions as well as the symptoms of hyperglycemia. He instructs Mrs. Smith in proper foot and skin care - as well as how to regulate her insulin and diet. He also stresses the importance of seeing her ophthalmologist regularly.

    After this detailed counseling session on diabetes in general, he tells Mrs. Smith how she specifically will be treated for her insulin dependent diabetes. He tells her what the starting dosage of her long-acting insulin will be and how it will be adjusted according to how her body reacts to the initial dose. She is assured that the starting dose will not make her become "unconscious," as it did her grandmother. Dr. "A" discusses the necessity for frequent blood sugar tests during the adjustment of her insulin dosage.

    Mrs. Smith says she feels much calmer now and feels sure she'll learn a lot from the booklets Dr. "A" has given her. Dr. "A" tells her to come back on Friday and his nurse will show her how to administer her insulin.

    The total time Dr. "A" spent with Mrs. Smith was forty minutes; thirty minutes of this time were spent counseling. Code 99215 would be reported, based on the total time spent face-to-face by Dr. "A" with Mrs. Smith. Dr. "A's" documentation should indicate the extent of the counseling he provided at this encounter. (Note: Doctor "A" did not perform two of the three key components required to report code 99215. Because counseling dominated the face-to-face physician/patient encounter, time is considered the controlling factor to qualify for this level of service. Code 99215 was selected because the total time spent with Mrs. Smith (an established patient seen in his office) was 40 minutes.)


    C. Selection Of Level Of Evaluation and Management Service Based On Duration Of Coordination Of Care and/or Counseling.--Advise physicians that when counseling and/or coordination of care dominates (more than 50 percent) the face-to-face physician/patient encounter or the floor time (in the case of inpatient services), time is the key or controlling factor in selecting the level of service. In general, to bill an E/M code, the physician must complete at least 2 out of 3 criteria applicable to the type/level of service provided. However, the physician may document time spent with the patient in conjunction with the medical decision-making involved and a description of the coordination of care or counseling provided. Documentation must be in sufficient detail to support the claim.

    EXAMPLE: A cancer patient has had all preliminary studies completed and a medical decision to implement chemotherapy. At an office visit the physician discusses the treatment options and subsequent lifestyle effects of treatment the patient may encounter or is experiencing. The physician need not complete a history and physical examination in order to select the level of service. The time spent in counseling/coordination of care and medical decision-making will determine the level of service billed.

    The code selection is based on the total time of the face-to-face encounter or floor time, not just the counseling time. The medical record must be documented in sufficient detail to justify the selection of the specific code if time is the basis for selection of the code.

    In the office and other outpatient setting, counseling and/or coordination of care must be provided in the presence of the patient if the time spent providing those services is used to determine the level of service reported. Face-to-face time refers to the time with the physician only. Counseling by other staff is not considered to be part of the face-to-face physician/patient encounter time. Therefore, the time spent by the other staff is not considered in selecting the appropriate level of service. The code used depends upon the physician service provided.

    Page 7

  4. #4
    Columbia, MO
    I agree with Rebecca, However since he was called to the ER the appropriate level is an ER level which have no timed component. Even if you wanted to call it a consult level for a payer that recognizes consults, the lowes level consult would need to be 15 minutes documented. Therefore I see no level that can be charged.

    Debra A. Mitchell, MSPH, CPC-H

  5. #5
    North Carolina
    Maybe 99499? But I'm leaning with Debra's post. The carrier may view this as "thanks for stopping by"...

  6. Default How to bill ER
    If the surgeon saw the pt in the ER setting; the service should be reported as a consultation. If the surgeon bills the ER codes, then the ER physician will not get reimbursed for the services they provided in the facility. The surgeon can utilize other CPT codes to describe the services they provided. The ER physician does not have that option as an employee of the facility.

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