Quite often ob-gyns use a fetal monitor to determine if a woman is in labor. They also use this device for a fetal non-stress test (NST, 59025). But there are significant differences between the two procedures that require distinct approaches to coding.
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Reserve 59025 for NST Only
To understand why you can’t use 59025 for labor checks, let us first review what an NST involves. During the procedure, the ob-gyn monitors the fetal heart rate using external transducers. A “reactive” NST will show the fetal heart rate accelerate from the baseline 15 beats per minute for a minimum of 15 seconds at least twice during a 10-minute window. If there are no accelerations after 20 minutes, the ob-gyn may attempt to induce a fetal response with acoustic stimulation through the mother’s abdomen or a vibration that would awaken the baby or cause it to react to the stimulus. This stimulation might be repeated every five minutes for a maximum of two to three times. If there are still no accelerations of the fetal heart rate, then it is interpreted as a “nonreactive” NST.
Difference: NST differs from “routine” monitoring in that the patient is asked to mark fetal movements on the monitor strip (or with newer equipment, fetal movement is detected and marked on the strip), which the physician...
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