Diagnostic Radiology Coding Basics

10 Things You Need To Know Before Coding Diagnostic Radiology

For this week’s post, I thought I’d talk about just some general things relating to diagnostic radiology coding.  Bear in mind, this isn’t the be-all-end-all, everything-you-need-to-know guide. This is just what I would tell a new coder who had limited experience with this specialty in a nutshell.

  1. First things first–radiologists can be vague in their documentation. They like to use words like “consistent with,” “probable,” “rule-out” etc.  In the outpatient setting–you do not code uncertain diagnoses. So if you come across a report with these terms, do not code it. A common phrase I see in the impression on chest x-rays is “consistent with pneumonia.” Since it is not definitive, you would not code the pneumonia–you would code whatever the symptoms are. There is a coding clinic however that states that the use of the words “Evidence of” is not a vague term–so you can code the condition.
  2.  When you’re coding, refer to the impression. If there is a finding, it will be listed here, and this is where you code from. If there are no findings, you would code the history/symptoms stated on the report.
  3. When you’re coding x-rays, you count up the number of views to get the CPT. Sometimes the radiologists may mention images–do not count images. It is not the same thing as views. (If you want to learn more about x-ray coding, don’t miss the boat on our online class).
  4. Another thing to keep in mind is to always follow all client specific guidelines. For example, do you code an addendum? Do you need to add a modifier 26? All of these types of questions will be answered in your client guidelines. (A good rule of thumb is to review your client guidelines before reaching out to the lead coder for questions).
  5. Know the difference between limited and complete ultrasounds (refer to the CPT book).
  6. Know the difference between all the different OB ultrasounds (refer to the CPT book).
  7.  CTA’s must state 3D in the documentation.
  8. Know whether or not you need to code the contrast for MRI and CT scans. Do you code contrast waste? Again, review client guidelines on these types of questions.
  9. Know whether or not you need to code incidentals. The answer to this is generally no, but this is another client guideline type question.
  10. Last but not least, know how to code fractures. If this is new to you, see this previous blog post.

So there you have it. Hopefully this list helped you figure out a little more about diagnostic radiology coding.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Join the Midnight Medical Coding Stars- A membership only area where one HIPAA compliant diagnostic radiology report is added each week for you to code the ICD-10-CM and CPT codes. Answers provided.

 

Join the Midnight Medical Coding Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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modifiers

Difference Between Modifiers 76 and 77

For this week, I thought I’d talk about 2 common modifiers used in diagnostic radiology–modifier 76 and 77. Let’s be honest though–talking about modifiers is probably not the most exciting coding thing to talk about–but it’s important. I’ll do my best to explain it in such a way that you actually read the whole article without getting bored– 🙂

So–modifier 76. If you look at the CPT book it says-

Ok, so the keywords here are ‘Repeat Procedure’ and ‘Same Physician.”

 

Now let’s look at modifier 77:

 

The keywords to look at here are ‘Repeat Procedure‘ by “Another Physician.’

So the difference between these modifiers is that modifier 76 is for a repeat procedure by the same physician on the same day, and modifier 77 is for a repeat procedure by a different physician on the same day.

In diagnostic radiology, I would say these modifiers are most commonly used on x-rays. Sometimes the same patient might need the same x-ray taken a few times during the course of the day. It could be x-rays for broken bones or chest x-rays to monitor different issues over time.

 

Le’ts look at a very common code- 71045. This is the CPT code for a 1 view chest x-ray.

 

Say if a patient had:

A 71045 was done at 8 am- read by Dr Smith, then later the same day

A 71045- done at 2 pm- read by Dr Smith

So basically this patient had 71045 done twice the same day. To bill these out, you have to add a modifier. In this case, this is the same procedure, read by the same physician. What modifier would you use?

You would add a modifier 76 to show that it’s a repeat CPT read by same radiologist. The 76 would go on the 71045 billed at 2 pm.

 

Let’s look at another example:

Say if a patient had:

71045 done at 9 am, read by Dr Smith, then later the same day

71045 done at 2 pm ready by Dr Jones

Now which modifier would you use? You would use a modifier 77 to show that this patient had 2 separate 71045’s done the same day, but NOT read by the same dr. You would add a modifier 77 on the 71045 from 2 pm. Does this make sense? You would use these modifiers to bill out 2 separate 71045’s the same day. You’re just trying to tell the insurance company if the same radiologist read the films or not. If you forget to add these modifiers, the insurance company most likely will think you made a mistake and billed out the same exam twice and deny one.

**Just a reminder–always follow client specific guidelines and insurance specific guidelines.

Questions? Feel free to comment below or email me at mightmedicalcoding@gmail.com.

 

Thanks for reading-

Lindsay

 

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 Questions Practice Coding Test

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

 

 

 

 

 

Join the Midnight Medical Coding Stars- A membership only area where one HIPAA compliant diagnostic radiology report is added each week for you to code the ICD-10-CM and CPT codes. Answers provided.

 

Join the Midnight Medical Coding Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tabs for the ICD-10-CM Book: Get 60 printed, multi-colored, double-sided tabs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coding Course

My First Day Working As A Medical Coder

On the first day of my first coding job, I didn’t know what I was doing. I really didn’t. I never coded a real radiology report before. I guess I read a few in my coding classes, but it was something that wasn’t focused on.

Everything I knew about radiology was just based on my life experiences up to that point. I knew what a wrist x-ray was because I needed one before (broke my wrist rollerblading). I knew what an ultrasound was because I have kids and had my fair share of prenatal ultrasounds.

I kind of knew what an MRI was because the machine looked scary to me and I couldn’t see myself ever being brave enough to go in one if needed. I didn’t know what a CT was. Never heard of a CTA or MRA. Didn’t know what spectral doppler was. Needless to say I was confused at my first coding job. I didn’t know what any of this stuff was. I was fortunate enough to have an awesome mentor who helped me with CPT coding and even some diagnosis coding here and there.

But I know not everyone is as lucky as I was. Not everyone has a mentor. Or maybe you don’t feel comfortable asking a coworker for help. Even though I’m not a new coder anymore, I didn’t forget what it was like being new. How I was afraid of coding everything wrong. How I was afraid that I really did not know what I was doing and was not going to make it as a coder.

 

Some of you may know this already–but I’ve put together a new diagnostic radiology coding course. It is geared towards new radiology coders or coders in another specialty who want to learn more about it. It focuses on the CPT coding of x-rays. By the time you finish the course, you will know how to code the CPT for a variety of x-rays. You will be familiar with 50 of the most common ones used and will be prepared for ‘real life’ diagnostic radiology coding. It is all online and self-paced.

Please see the link below for a full description of the course. You’ll see the exact format and what is included. Scroll down the page and you will see a FAQ section and what my students are saying about the class. I hope you’ll join us!

 

Click Here for more info, to see class reviews and to sign up!

 

Click HERE for more info, to see class reviews and to sign up.

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Coding Course

On Sale Now!

Are you a medical coder or medical coding student who wants to learn more about diagnostic radiology coding?

There are A LOT of codes in the CPT book and you’re probably only familiar with the ones you use everyday.

So, if you’re a coder in another specialty, or a coding student, you might not know that much about the CPT coding of x-ray’s just because you haven’t had the opportunity to code them yet, or maybe it’s something that really wasn’t focused on in your regular coding classes.

Our new online coding class is available now! It focuses on the CPT coding of x-rays. You will code HIPAA compliant reports after each lesson and do coding practice exercises, take quizzes (your score is available immediately after submitting it) and there is test at the end. Supplemental info/sources/links are also provided. It is all online and self-paced.

The instructor (me- Lindsay Della Vella!) is available 24/7 through email for questions.

This class is getting excellent reviews from fellow coders who have already completed it. I hope you join us!

It is on sale NOW for $39.99! Offer expires Sunday at 5 pm EST.

Click the link to sign up and for more info.
https://bit.ly/2wSf6hF

Still have questions? Feel free to email me at midnightmedicalcoding@gmail.com

Coding Course

Diagnostic Radiology Online Coding Course

Midnight Medical Coding will be offering an online diagnostic radiology coding course starting in January 2019! This course focuses on x-ray CPT coding. You’ll learn the most common codes, how to look them up in the book and you’ll practice coding HIPAA compliant reports.

The course is done at your own pace and I’m always available for questions. There’s 9 modules (may ultimately end up being 10) which includes videos for instruction, pdf downloads, quizzes and practice coding exercises.

Students will also have the option of joining a private Facebook group just for people who take this course. That is where I can always be reached and I’ll also be sharing supplemental materials there. It also will be a place for students just to connect and talk to each other.

I’m super excited about this! Cost is $50.00 and you will have access to the course to December 2019.

If you want to stay in the loop and be notified when this course becomes available please go to: https://midnightmedicalcoding.podia.com/intro-to-x-ray-cpt-… and sign up for updates.

x-ray class cover

coding challenge

Coding Challenge 6

Please read the report below and code the CPT and the ICD-10-CM Code. Please keep in mind that these reports are designed to be as realistic as possible, but everything is HIPAA compliant so the information is not real.

*For the tomo, please use the HCPCS code.

***************************************************************

Procedure- Bilateral Diagnostic Mammogram with Tomo

History- Bilateral breast pain for 2 weeks

Technique- Full field mammography was performed. Bilateral breast tomosynthesis was preformed in the MLO and CC projections. CAD was used as an aid for interpreting this exam.

Comparison: Prior mammo from April 2017

Density- There are scattered fibroglandular densities

Findings: There is no suspicious mass, microcalcifications,  or unexplained distortions.

Impression: No dominant mass or secondary signs of malignancy within either breast. Annual screenings recommended. BIRADS ASSESSMENT- (2) Benign findings.

Signed Dr. J.

Go Here To Check Your Answers

Youtube tutorial

X-Ray Coding–A Walk-Through With Examples

If you’re new to radiology coding, or just want to learn more about it, this is a good video for you to watch. It is a quick 5 minute tutorial where I go over the format of an x ray report and the elements that should be included. There is also a practice report in it for you to code the cpt and icd-10 code.

Thank you for watching this tutorial!

 

 

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Uncategorized

Why It’s Beneficial To Know How To Code Diagnostic Radiology

I just wanted to shed some light on something. I’m not sure if this is the best topic for one of my first blog posts, but here it is anyway. The other day, the topic of off-shoring came up in a coding discussion. It is a sensitive subject and we can’t pull the wool over our eyes and pretend it’s not there. But I don’t want new coders to feel that they should avoid learning diagnostic radiology coding, thinking it would be a waste of time and abandon ship. The fact is that coding in ALL specialties can end up going off-shore. This is something that happens in any coding specialty and is not diagnostic radiology coding-specific. Say what you will, but this is something that most coders are well aware of, and I have never heard of that fact alone being the sole reason that someone does not pursue radiology coding.

Another thing to keep in mind too, is that coding needs to be audited. Not just radiology coding but all coding, no matter where it is coded originally. Usually the coding gets audited here in the USA. Now, I’m sure there are exceptions to this somewhere out there, but in my experience this has been the case. In order to audit it, you have to know how to code it first right? So if it is something you’re interested in, don’t miss the boat!

Another reason to learn diagnostic radiology coding is because it is a good account for new coders to get their feet wet. Why do they start with the radiology accounts? Because it is easier than starting with other types of coding, say brain surgeries, transplants etc. While it’s true that it is easier than some types of coding, it has it’s own set of rules, and is a specialty in and of itself. If you are a diagnostic radiology coder, not only will you become proficient in aspects of CPT coding, you will become familiar with all sections of the ICD-10-CM book. You use a full range of codes which is a very valuable skill set. Even if you decide not to stay in diagnostic radiology coding–these skills transfer over to other coding specialties.

So, to make a long story short, there are many different coding specialties, and unfortunately some coding does end up going offshore, in ALL specialties. But you would be doing yourself a disservice if you decide not to learn diagnostic radiology coding based on that alone. There are thousands of radiologists in this country and many of them see the benefits of having the coding of their practice stay in the US. Not only that, radiology coding lends itself to learning so many different aspects of CPT and ICD-10-CM coding and these skills are valuable for any coder to have.
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