Advice

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-

 

 

 

 

Midnight Medical Coding Products You Might Be Interested In:

Learn The 50 Most Common X-Ray CPT Codes-

Self-paced online course. Getting awesome reviews from fellow coders.

 

 

 

 

15 Question Practice Coding Test

Practice coding the ICD-10-CM and CPT codes of HIPAA compliant X-ray reports. Answers and rationales provided.

 

 

 

 

Tabs for the ICD-10-CM Book: Get 60 printed, multi-colored, double-sided tabs. These can be used on any 2019 or 2018 ICD-10-CM book from any publisher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Advice

4 Proven Ways To Stay Up To Date In The Medical Coding Industry

 It's not secret that the medical coding world is always changing. Every year there are new codes and new guidelines. You have to buy new books and read through the new codes and make  sure you understand them. But there is more to it than that. You have to continue on with your own professional growth and development in your own specialty and maybe even learn about new specialties. So how on Earth do you do all this on top of everything else going on in your life? Here is a list of 4 ways to help you keep up with the ever changing medical coding world.

 

  • Read medical coding publications. I'm sure many of you read AAPC's magazine to get the 1 CEU credit. But it is a good idea to read this magazine anyway. There's lots of good articles here that will keep you up to date. Not just coding but overall changes/trends in the industry so you're not left in the dark.

 

  • Go to AAPC meetings. I know I'm talking a lot about AAPC here, but that is because it is what I'm familiar with. Every month there are local chapter meetings, and if you go you will get to network with other coders and also earn CEU's. I hate to say this, but it took me years to go to meetings because I just couldn't do it. My kids were young and I just couldn't swing it. However, at the time I did sign up to be on their email list. So I kept up that way for a while until I could finally make the meetings. I'm not sure if AHIMA does something similar. If you are certified through them, definitely look into it and see what they have to offer.

 

  • Network with other coders. If you can't get to AAPC meetings, another way to network with coders is online. If you're part of Facebook medical coding groups, you will have the opportunity to just talk to other coders and see what's going on in the coding world in general. Make a long story short, some of the best coders I know, I have not met in real life. But I've known them through Facebook for years and I consider them not only peers, but good friends.

 

  • Always look for ways to expand your own knowledge. This could be hard to do, but one of the ways you can stay up to date with the coding world is to keep an eye on other specialties that you're not currently coding. For example, even if you're not an E/M coder, big changes are coming in the next few years. It helps to keep up with these things just so your knowledge overall stays relevant, and you know what you're talking about. Here's another idea too. Get books and read up on different specialties if it's something you're interested in and just want to learn it. For example, even though I only audit diagnostic radiology, I've been spending time reading up on interventional radiology. It takes a long time to learn and I'm no where near ready to code it in real life. But it's something I'm interested in and might want to do someday, so I figure, why not.

Anyone else have any other suggestions? What do you do to stay up to date in the coding world?

Midnight Medical Coding Products You Might Be Interested In:

 

Learn The 50 Most Common X-Ray CPT Codes-

Self-paced online course. Getting awesome reviews from fellow coders.

 

 

 

 

15 Question Practice Coding Test

Practice coding the ICD-10-CM and CPT codes of HIPAA compliant X-ray reports. Answers and rationales provided.

 

 

 

 

 

Tabs for the ICD-10-CM Book: Get 60 printed, multi-colored, double-sided tabs. These can be used on any 2019 or 2018 ICD-10-CM book from any publisher.

 

 

Advice

3 Things Your Medical Coding School Did Not Tell You

Ok, before you even read this post, please keep in mind that this post is not about one specific coding school. There are literally hundreds of medical coding schools out there and some are undoubtedly better than others. This post is just my response to social media threads I see out there where people talk about dropping thousands of dollars on a medical coding course/school and still had no idea they needed to take a certification exam. Had no idea it would be hard to get a coding job. And who also had no idea that working from home shouldn’t just be an expectation. That is only the tip of the ice burg. It saddens me to think that coding schools do not give their students the heads-up about the real coding world. But it also bothers me that some (not all) potential coders do not research and do their homework and look around. It’s important to at least get a feel for the coding world before jumping into it. So, in case your new to the coding world, please read this list below. It might help you decide if coding is really right for you.

 

“School coding” is not the same as coding in real life. Let me explain. When you are in coding school, you are still just learning. You are in the process of forming the foundation for your future. It’s important that you get an overview of all the different areas of coding, and get a basic understanding. So since the goal at this point is learning how everything kind of goes together, everything will be presented to you in a way that’s clear without leaving much room for guesswork. An example would be–if you have an E/M coding question–it tells you right in the question what all the different levels are for each area. You don’t have to fill out the actual audit sheet and get the level yourself. This is okay–you are learning and it’s not expected that you can do this right off the bat. It bothers me though that coding schools don’t seem to let students know that it is not like this in real life. Don’t get me wrong–some doctors are better than others about documentation and sometimes the report is very clear and easy to understand. Other times, well, not so much.

 

The next thing many new coders don’t know is very similar to the last one, but has to do with insurance. Different insurances have different rules. Many coding schools do not even mention the idea of insurances. I can see why they wouldn’t. You are learning how to code and it’s probably best not to complicate things by throwing the idea of insurance and different rules into the mix. Again though, I think it would be beneficial to the student if this is at least mentioned at some point. An example off the top of my head– some insurances still use a modifier 59. Some don’t, and use the different X modifiers. Some even have rules that would sound weird to a coder. An example would be, I remember there was one particular insurance that required a 59 be added to both a 76856 and 76830 on the same claim. The CPT book would say this is a no-no, but that is how this one insurance wanted it. I’m sure there are many more examples out there. The point being though–insurances have rules. It’s not expected you know them right out of the gate, but I wish schools would tell new coders that this is actually a thing. Once you throw federal payers into this (Medicare)–they have rules too. Many insurances follow what Medicare does, but some do not. You will learn all of this on the job, but again, this is something just to be aware of.

 

 

 

Ok, one last thing that new coders may not realize is that working remote is not a guarantee. Many schools try to sell the idea that you can work from home from day 1 and make lots of money all while tending to other things. Sometimes these schools even have a picture of a young mom coding with her baby sitting on her lap. This makes my blood boil. Yes, some people have been fortunate enough to work from home from the beginning. Is it the norm? No. And while taking care of a baby? Definitely no. I feel like they just put pictures like that to sell you on the idea that you can stay home, raise your kids, and work at the same time. And they make it look easy. I won’t go on a tangent too much here, but I heard a saying once and it kind of stayed with me. It said, “Women are expected to work like they don’t have kids, and raise kids, like they don’t have to work.” I know there are million different situations out there, and yes, it is possible to work from home and still have kids. That’s not what this is about. I don’t like how schools set people up with the idea that it’s an expectation and everyone and anyone can do it.

 

Anyway, all I can say is just do your homework before getting into the field. It is a great field to be in, with many different possibilities. I absolutely love it, and I can not even see myself doing anything else. A great way to get an idea for what it is really like is by networking and talking to other coders. They can also share their experiences. It may even lead to a job offer down the line. You can go to local AAPC chapter meetings and join different coding Facebook groups out there to meet other coders.

Midnight Medical Coding Products You Might Be Interested In:

 

Learn The 50 Most Common X-Ray CPT Codes-

Self-paced online course. Getting awesome reviews from fellow coders.

 

 

 

 

15 Question Practice Coding Test

Practice coding the ICD-10-CM and CPT codes of HIPAA compliant X-ray reports. Answers and rationales provided.

 

 

 

 

 

Tabs for the ICD-10-CM Book: Get 60 printed, multi-colored, double-sided tabs. These can be used on any 2019 or 2018 ICD-10-CM book from any publisher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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