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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ICD-10 Coding Tips

Beginners Guide To Coding Fractures Using ICD-10-CM-Part 2

Ok, as a follow up to last weeks post about 7th character A, for this week I thought I’d talk about 7th character D and more just about fracture coding in general. Here is a pic from my book:

 

Please see the pic where I have the star. It says 7th character D is used for encounters after the patient has completed active treatment of the condition and is receiving routine care for the condition during the healing or recovery phase. Ok, just like I mentioned in the last blog post,  the 7th character is not determined by provider or how many visits the patient has had, or anything like that. It just has to do with if the patient is in the healing/recovery phase or not. Examples of the recovery phase: if the patient is having x-rays to determine how a fracture is healing= 7th character D. Sometimes keywords in the report help as well. A radiologist will never say “patient is now in recovery/healing phase.” Keywords for healing is if the documentation mentions “callus formation.” Callus formation means the bones are healing.

Just in general, here are some more facts about fracture coding. These are all found in the ICD-10-CM Book in the guidelines about fracture coding. All fractures default to a displaced fracture if it is not documented as displaced or nondisplaced. (Displaced basically just means the bones are not lined up right). If the report specifies ‘nondisplaced’ fracture, then code it as nondisplaced.

All fractures default to a “closed” fracture if it’s not documented. Closed fracture means that there’s a broken bone but it is not coming out through the skin. This is really gross to think about but since we’re coders, we have to. Basically, if the report states “open fracture,” you’d code it as open fracture. But what that means is that the bone is so broken and messed up that you’d be able to see it. It’s through the skin (these are very bad fractures, sometimes from gunshot wounds and those types of injuries). Don’t worry–I will never post any real pics of fractures or anything on this site. Even though I can read reports for work, I can not look at real pictures or video of anything medical without completely losing it and feeling sick. Not sure if everyone is like that, but I’m the worst. It’s amazing I can even work as a coder I’m so bad with it.

Here are some different types of fractures, but these are drawings so I can handle it 🙂

 

 

Do you have any questions about fracture coding? Please comment below or email me at midnightmedicalcoding@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading-

Lindsay

 

Other Midnight Medical Coding Products you may 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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common coding mistakes, ICD-10-CM Coding Tips

ICD-10-CM Coding Tip About The M50 Series

Say what you will, but there are tons of ICD-10-CM Codes used for the different spine conditions. Even if you are not a newbie coder–it can be confusing. This post is not about all the different codes, but just one specific note for the M50 series. If you look at M50, you will see, ‘Note: Code to the most superior level of the disorder.’ If you’ve never noticed this before, please go check it out in the ICD-10 book right now. Below is a pic of my book and the note is highlighted in orange.

Here is a pic from my book.

So the long and short of it is, you only need to code the disorder for the highest level that’s documented in the report. So say if you’re coding an MRI and the dx is cervical disc disorders with myelopathy, and it’s documented at the C3-C4 level and also C5-C6 in the report–you would only code M50.01. You do not need the code M50.021. I can’t tell you how many times I see coders make this mistake. Here’s the kicker, sometimes it’s not even coders who make this mistake. Sometimes it’s a coding engine. But bear in mind though that there’s no way a coding engine can ‘know’ all the rules. But as coders we have no excuse. When all is said and done, we really just have to know this stuff.

 

 

 

 

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Welcome

Welcome

 

Midnight Medical Coding is owned and managed by Lindsay Della Vella BS, COC. Our mission is to provide high quality, affordable educational materials related to diagnostic radiology coding. We supply free youtube tutorials, blog posts, discussions on social media, and practice radiology coding exercises. Our main products are online courses geared towards new radiology coders or coders in other specialties looking to learn more about diagnostic radiology coding.

 

To have a bright future in the medical coding world, you have to be educated. But not only that, you have to know what you’re doing right from the beginning. It can be very intimidating your first day on diagnostic radiology coding job. This website was created with the hope that a new coder could find everything they need in one place. Need a list of common diagnostic radiology codes? Got it! Want to watch a webinar and learn something new? Got it! What about a practice coding test? Got it! Here you will find all that and more.

Once you spend some time browsing here, you will no doubt be a better diagnostic radiology coder!