5 Wrong Ways To Code Using ICD-10-CM

First things first. If you’ve been coding a while, I’m sure you’re already very familiar with the ICD-10-CM book and how to actually find a code in the book. But here’s the thing. There’s a right way to code, and a wrong way. I won’t get into whether or not you should use an encoder or anything like that. For this post, I’m just referring to using the ICD-10-CM book when coding. Okay- so here’s the first “wrong thing” you can do while coding:

Going Right To The Tabular. I know that you might be in a rush trying to get everything finished. Or maybe you kind of have an idea where the code is in the tabular. But if you skip looking in the index, you might miss something. There’s so much info there even if it’s not where the actual codes are. By skipping the index, you’re just guessing and might end up with the wrong code.


Using Google Without Checking The Book. Okay here is another one, but this one really gets under my skin. Google is great for a lot of things. It can sometimes help with coding but please, if you use Google–double check what it is telling you in the book. Google does not know coding rules and is just going off of keywords. It may lead you in the right direction overall–but you need to double check with the book and see if you’re correct. I had a coding manager tell me one time she coded something the way she did because “Google said.” Please don’t be that person. Use the book/references to back up your code choices.


Ignoring Excludes– Here is something that coding engines seem to do, and that’s ignoring excludes. The excludes are important. Some ICD-10-CM codes/conditions can not be coded with others and that’s the whole reason why the excludes are there. If you’re ignoring them, you might end up coding things together which shouldn’t be. Which leads me to my next point:


Ignoring Coding Guidelines– The guidelines are there for a reason–you need to follow them. I think most coders do a good job with this, but it’s important to remind everyone once in a while. Guidelines are there so you don’t have to guess or make stuff up. Review the guidelines every once in a while. You don’t have to memorize them.


Coding Symptoms When There Are Findings- For this one, I’m referring to outpatient coding. Don’t code symptoms when there are definitive findings. This is something I see sometimes, and I’m not really sure why coders make this mistake. You need to be careful of the wording of different radiology reports– you don’t want to code “probable,” “likely,” “suspected” diagnoses. But if it’s definite–code it!


So there you have it. How to code wrong-hopefully none of you are doing those things. Can anyone think of any others?

Thanks for reading-





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