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Winter 2022

Editor’s Note: For Some, April May Hold a Coding Surprise
By Lee DeOrio
For The Record
Vol. 34 No. 1 P. 5

For coders working in inpatient settings, April 1 brings a debut of sorts: The first-ever routine April update to the ICD-10-CM/PCS classification. It’s yet another date for busy coders to mark on their “coding calendars.” The question this time may be whether coders are fully aware that on that date there will be three new diagnosis codes and nine new procedure codes.

“I am not sure how many people know that there is an April 1, 2022, edition of ICD-10-CM/PCS codes,” says Laurie M. Johnson, MS, RHIA, FAHIMA, an AHIMA-approved ICD-10-CM/PCS trainer at Revenue Cycle Solutions, who notes that these codes are not typically assigned by HIM coders unless there is a reason such as reimbursement or statistics. That being the case, the burden lies with health care organizations to get the word out about these PCS changes.

“The coders must know whether they are to code them,” Johnson says, noting that facility-specific coding guidelines must be updated and communicated to the coding staff in a timely fashion. “The decision to code or not code should come from administration. It is important for coders to read release notes from the encoder companies and for coding management to provide education to their coding staffs regarding these developments. During the education, the coding management could provide information as to whether the new codes will be assigned.

“If coders are assigning the codes, they have to be aware of the documentation where the information can be found and are there other names that the medications go by. These PCS codes are non-OR procedures so they do not affect the MS-DRG assignment. These procedures all involve the vaccination or administration of a drug which is not a routine procedure for inpatient coders to assign.”

It was during the Coordination and Maintenance Committee meeting in September that the prospect of a routine April update was discussed as a possibility. These gatherings offer coding professionals a chance to share their opinions and voice their comments about the field’s future. Is this opportunity being heeded?

“I believe that there has been a strong voice at [the meetings] regarding the development of new codes,” Johnson says. “AHIMA and AHA [American Hospital Association] routinely attend the meeting. There are a few other strong coders who also voice their opinions. [However,] it is always better to get as many opinions as possible and I would encourage others to attend and voice their opinions as well. There is a difference of opinion regarding the need for administration of medications in ICD-10-PCS in the industry. That difference is routinely voiced at the meeting.”

For those interested in joining the discussion, the next Coordination and Maintenance Committee meeting is scheduled for March 8–9.