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Old 04-29-2010, 03:39 PM
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m.j.kummer m.j.kummer is offline
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Question Dyspnea vs. SOB

I am struggling with this and want your input please. When you look up the word dyspnea in the Index to Diseases, the code provided first is 786.09. When you refer to the tabular list, dyspnea is not mentioned.

When you look up the definition of dyspnea it leads to short of breath 786.05.

So tell me why 786.09 is appropriate and 786.05 is not? The definitions (pasted below) are almost identical. I want to understand.

Main Entry: dys·pnea
Pronunciation: \ˈdis(p)-nē-ə\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin dyspnoea, from Greek dyspnoia, from dyspnoos short of breath, from dys- + pnein to breathe — more at sneeze
Date: circa 1681
: difficult or labored respiration

intransitive verb
1 : to draw air into and expel it from the lungs : respire ; broadly : to take in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide through natural processes
2 : to inhale and exhale freely
transitive verb
: to inhale and exhale <breathing fresh air>

Function: noun
: difficult or labored respiration

Function: noun
1 a : the movement of respiratory gases (as oxygen and carbon dioxide) into and out of the lungs b : a single complete act of breathing <30 respirations per minute>
2 : the physical and chemical processes (as breathing and diffusion) by which an organism supplies its cells and tissues with the oxygen needed for metabolism and relieves them of the carbon dioxide formed in energy-producing reactions
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Old 04-30-2010, 06:36 AM
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Default Dyspnea vs SOB


You are not crazy wondering about these differences. T

he best explaination I have discovered is this: I do a lot of teaching and this question is frequently asked or I ask it of the attendees. Most nurses think SOB is appropirately called Dyspnea; many physicians believe they are the same; BUT some physicians think of SOB is what you are after running up 3 flights of stairs where as dyspnea is that same labored breathing but without the 3 flights. A patient with dyspnea is SOB to them but has some underlying cause (not the 3 flights).

Now this is a symantics discussion for sure, but what I always say is when in doubt code the word that the physician wrote down. Because changing SOB to Dyspnea or vice verse results in a different ICD9 code which may cause problems. It is only one 5th digit off but it is different.

I hope this helps - but yes this is one of those tricky coding areas.

Jill M. Young, CPC, CEDC, CIMC
Past Member AAPCCA BOD 2007-2011
Young Medical Consulting, LLC
East Lansing, Michigan
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