I believe the the proper code MAY be the consult ... even if your surgeon winds up taking over management of that issue.
CPT 2008, Professional Edition, page 14 second paragraph of guidelines under Consultations:
"A physician consultant may initiate diagnostic and/or therapeutic services at the same or subsequent visit."
If you have access to the hospital chart, you might also find that the requesting physician has, indeed, placed an "order for consult by hand trauma surgeon."
So if your hand surgeon is being asked by another physician to see the patient in consultation re hand injuries, and the hand surgeon is reporting back to the requesting physician (easy to do in an inpatient setting, as the patient's chart is accessible to both), then the first visit could be reported as a consult. Don't forget the -57 modifier if there is a decision for surgery as a result of the evaluation, and it is performed the same or next day.
F Tessa Bartels, CPC, CPC-E/M
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