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Renewed interest in ICD-10 education has been prompted by the announcement last Thursday from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) indicating that the Medicare ICD-10 flexibilities agreement will end and will not be extended beyond Oct. 1, 2016.

CMS also stated that Medicare would not “phase in” the requirement to code to the highest level of specificity. The agency indicated that providers would be required to code “accurately to reflect the clinical documentation in as much specificity as possible.” 

“This announcement from CMS highlights the importance of continuing ICD-10-CM education as well as clinical documentation improvement,” said senior healthcare consultant Laurie Johnson, stressing the importance of continuing education. “This announcement also answers the question about how long the unspecified codes will be accepted. Please note that CMS has stated … that unspecified codes have their role, but the reviewers will be evaluating if the code matches the specificity in the clinical documentation.”  

Yet another developing situation is also making the case for additional ICD-10 education. Last week, ICD10monitor revealed a potential catch-22 in the recently released ICD-10 coding guidelines. The issue involves what facilities are to do when physicians document diagnoses that may be unsupported by the clinical circumstances reflected in the medical record.

There is a section in the guidelines that reads: “the assignment of a diagnosis code is based on the provider’s diagnostic statement that the condition exists. The provider’s statement that the patient has a particular condition is sufficient. Code assignment is not based on clinical criteria used by the provider to establish the diagnosis.”

If the diagnosis is not clinically validated, then both Recovery Auditors (RAs) as well as commercial insurance auditors are going to deny the claim. On the other hand, if the coder or the facility decides not to report the diagnosis, then they are in violation of the coding guidelines, which is also a major problem.

Against the backdrop of these two issues, ICD10monitor is offering providers a four-part, interactive, hands-on ICD-10 workshop series that begins today. The series will be led by two health information management (HIM) authorities in Laurie Johnson and Sandra Brewton. 

Titled Count Down to Ten: Preparing for Massive ICD-10 Code Changes,” the first workshop will be conducted Wednesday, Aug. 24 and will focus on the PCS guidelines and definitions. This will be followed by the following presentations:

Workshop No. 2: Non-Cardiovascular PCS Update and Guidelines
Thursday, Aug. 25, 1:30-2:30 p.m. EST 

Workshop No. 3: Cardiovascular PCS Update
Wednesday, Aug. 31, 1:30-2:30 p.m. EST

Workshop No. 4: ICD-10-CM Code Update
Thursday, Sept. 1, 1:30-2:30 p.m. EST

Johnson is currently the director of HIM consulting at Panacea Healthcare Solutions. Laurie is an American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)-approved ICD-10-CM/PCS trainer, a past president of the Pennsylvania Health Information Management Association (PHIMA), and a current member of the AHIMA Classification and Clinical Terminology Practice Council; she also has a bachelor of science degree in health records administration and a master of science degree in healthcare information systems from the University of Pittsburgh. Laurie is a member of the ICD10monitor editorial board and is the national correspondent for Talk Ten Tuesdays, a live, weekly Internet radio broadcast.

Brewton is a senior healthcare consultant for Panacea Healthcare Solutions. Previously, she supervised the inpatient coding department of a major university healthcare system.


Chuck Buck

Chuck Buck is the publisher of RACmonitor and is the program host and executive producer of Monitor Monday.

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