How to Report New Code Category W44

How to Report New Code Category W44

One of the goals of medical coding is documenting encounter notes to the highest degree of specificity. ICD-10-CM had some existing codes for documenting foreign bodies entering through a natural orifice.

Code range T15 through T19 helped document such conditions, but these codes simply referred to a non-specific foreign body. However, the recent update, effective Oct. 1, 2023, added more than 100 unique codes related to foreign bodies entering a natural orifice, and these new codes provide a greater level of detail regarding the type of foreign body.

Pediatricians are the most likely provider group to benefit from the increased detail, but the greater level of specificity will be helpful to all providers if such encounters come their way.

The new codes, using ICD-10-CM Category W44, identify specific aspects regarding the type of material that found its way into an orifice, and also require coding the encounter type as either initial, subsequent, or sequela. The specific materials included in the new codes include batteries, buttons, plastics, glass, and metals. These are further identified as either magnetic or non-magnetic; organic or natural material; non-organic material; and sharp objects.

Code subsets provide further specificity. For example, W44B, “Plastic entering into or through a natural orifice,” allows detail as to the type of object, such as a plastic bead, coin, toy, jewelry, or bottle.

The detail reads almost as if it belongs in an infomercial where they call out a myriad list of things the product can do: “it slices carrots, it slices onions, it slices tomatoes.”

Well, with the new W44 codes, I imagine we can be calling out: “it codes buttons, it codes plastic coins, it codes rubber bands.” And if you code right now, we will also include, at absolutely no charge to you, some new H57.8A and R09.A codes.

That was a not-so-subtle way for me to lead into some other new codes related to foreign bodies. In this case, they refer to foreign body sensations of the eye and adnexa or the circulatory and respiratory systems.

Preexisting code H57.8 welcomes four new codes. H57.8A will be used to identify foreign body sensations of the eye, with the detail noting laterality as right, left, bilateral, or unspecified. And pre-existing code R09 also gets four new codes. R09.A will help capture foreign body sensations of the circulatory and respiratory system, indicated as nose, throat, other site, or unspecified site.

As a reminder, these sensation codes are used only when the patient has a complaint of feeling like there is a foreign body in their eye, nose, throat, or other site, but the provider’s examination reveals that no object was found.

There are two other W44 codes that I should mention: W44.8 and W44.9. Code W44.8 is used for other foreign body entering into or through a natural orifice, while W44.9 is for unspecified foreign body entering into or through a natural orifice. These codes also get built out to indicate the encounter as initial, subsequent, or sequela. If you find yourself considering W44.8 or W44.9, I suggest that you first review the foreign body codes in range T15 through T19, as they may offer a little bit better specificity to anatomic location.

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Gina Yacovelli, DHSC, CCS-P, CCS, CPC, CPMA, CEMC, CPB

Gina Yacovelli, DHSc, joined Coding & Billing Solutions in September 2018. Yacovelli was elected as the 2nd year Delegate for the 2023-2024 year for NJHIMA. Yacovelli holds a Doctoral Degree in Health Sciences from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA where she is also the Director of the Medical Billing and Coding Program. Yacovelli has 19 years of teaching experience and holds professional certifications including CCS, CCS-P, CPC, CPMA, CEMC, CPB.

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