Eliminate ‘uncertain behavior’ confusion with expert tips
If you always use diagnosis code 238.2 (Neoplasm of uncertain behavior of skin) when you’re reporting 11100 (Biopsy of skin, subcutaneous tissue and/or mucous membrane [including simple closure], unless otherwise listed; single lesion) for a biopsy procedure your surgeon performs, you’re setting your practice up for disaster. The key to knowing when to use the “uncertain behavior” diagnosis code is understanding what that code descriptor really means. Follow these expert tips to ensure you’re choosing the correct diagnosis code for all your 11100 claims.
Wait For Pathology Before Choosing a Code
When your general surgeon performs a biopsy you should always wait until the pathology report comes back to choose the proper diagnosis and procedure codes to report – even though this will not always affect the CPT code you will wind up choosing.
Reason: The biopsy specimen’s pathology will affect the ICD-9 code you report, but most CPT procedure codes are not based on the specimen’s results. “There are a few CPT codes which are linked to specific diagnoses (for instance, excision of benign and malignant lesions), but overall CPT is about what you did; ICD-9 is about the outcome or the reason for it,” says Marcella Bucknam, CPC, CCS-P, CPC-H, CCS, CPC-P, COBGC, CCC, manager of compliance education for the University of Washington Physicians Compliance Program in Seattle.
Get to Know the Meaning Behind ‘Uncertain’ Codes
When you report 238.2 as the diagnosis for a biopsy procedure, you’re telling the payer that the pathologist said in his path report that he was uncertain as to the morphology of the lesion, says Barbara J. Cobuzzi, MBA, CPC, CENTC, CPC-H, CPC-P, CPC-I, CHCC, president of CRN Healthcare Solutions, a coding and reimbursement consulting firm in Tinton Falls, N.J., and senior coder and auditor for...
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