When scouring the notes for evidence of an emergency department caveat scenario, coders can easily forget to ask themselves one simple question: Can I report a critical care code for this scenario?
The answer’s yes more often than you might think, says Caral Edelberg, CPC, CPMA, CCS-P, CHC, president of Edelberg Compliance Associates in Baton Rouge, La.
“Many patients who qualify for the caveat may also be candidates for critical care. If the condition is severe enough that the patient’s ability to provide this information is impaired, then the condition may be critical,” she explains.
Critical Care Omits Specific History Component
Considering critical care and the caveat simultaneously can make your head spin, as the ED caveat does not even apply to 99291 (Critical care, evaluation and management of the critical ill or critically injured patient; first 30-74 minutes) or +99292 (… each additional 30 minutes [List separately in addition to code for primary service]).
Why? “There are not the same bullet-counting requirements for documentation of history, physical examination, or MDM [medical decision making] for critical care,” explains Edelberg. The descriptors for critical care concern only E/M of the critically ill or injured patient.
So when your physician invokes the emergency department caveat for a patient, check to see if the patient was critically ill or injured; if she was, and the physician documents at least 30 minutes of critical care, consider 99291.
Payout: The only level of service you can invoke the emergency department caveat on is 99285 (Emergency department visit for the evaluation and management of a patient, which requires these 3 key components within the constraints imposed by the urgency of the patient’s clinical condition and/or mental status: a comprehensive history; a...
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