Medical Coding Tips — Coding Surgical Procedure

This one is kind of a brief one.
Q: Coding Surgical Procedure – I was wondering if someone could give me a few tips on how
to figure out the wording when coding a surgical procedure? I have the study guide but the
questions that they ask without the multiple answers are where I don’t know what to look
for. I really appreciate any help you may have. Thanks, Mary.
A: When you take a coding course, you typically start off with a few words, like, Ebola and
you go look it up in the index. Then you start building on that. You might get a little scenario,
a little blip, and then you get real report, the kind of code. A lot of times, especially
with our CPC Review Blitz, we are focused on helping you pass the exam, so we do focus
on multiple choice. But it does relate to the real world, in that you will go to the
index, if you have a term, and it will often give you a range of codes. It doesn’t just
give you one, sometimes. But for the most part, you go and you consult a range of codes
and you look at those codes and you compare them and you contrast them and you see which
one best fits your documentation. So, multiple choice training isn’t necessarily a bad
thing. So, now you’re saying, “Woo! Now I’m out on the real world and no multiple
choices. Where do I start?” So, I’m just going to take a quick report
that I Googled earlier. This is what first came up, it could be any report. Apparently,
this is a sample where they’re trying to help their physician know an acceptable operative
report is. Physician education, coders get involved in it.
This is a typical layout. We got the patient’s name and address — their demographics – their
name, the date. This is where you want to start, you don’t want to just code here.
But these three things: preoperative, postoperative, and procedure – these are the diagnostic
and procedural statements that you will be starting your coding from. So, I believe the
question was focused more on the procedure, so I’ll focus on that.
So, here’s the statement – and don’t get excited. The doctors don’t give you
CPT code. It just happened to be on the sample – bilateral upper lid blepharoplasty, so
they’re getting an eyelid job. What you would do as a coder, you don’t read the
whole report, not yet. You go and you start with the statement, because this is what Dr.
John Good said he did. So, you go to the index and you look up probably “blepharoplasty,
upper lid” and you come up with your code and you might find that there’s one or two,
or maybe three different types of blepharoplasty codes. If you don’t have enough in this
statement to pick one, then you go and you read the body of the report. They call it
abstracting, you’re abstracting the info that you need to get the correct code.
Now, you do read the op report to see if there’s anything extra that the physician did that
you should code also. Where your skill comes in, as you start to learn things, like, an
oophorectomy (removing an ovary); then, you see “Oh, they did a laparotomy. I should
code that.” But what you learned in coding is – no, you don’t code the approach,
you don’t code the path to get there. So they opened the abdomen, “laparo,” right?
And to get to the ovary, you remove it, the oophorectomy; then, you don’t code the laparotomy.
It’s bundled in. As you’re reading the story, that’s what you’re skimming for,
just coding some extra stuff. If you find that, then you go ahead and code it.
Now, you could go ahead and code it and then maybe pop it into a CCI checker, which that’s
the Correct Coding Initiative. It’s where they basically tell you if the Medicare considers
the two codes bundled, where one is bundled into the other. And that’s how you learn.
So, this is actually what we do in our practicum course, we use Practicode as the background
for the course and you code live cases like this. You log in as if you’re a remote coder,
and on the left-hand side you’ve got your note and your demographics on the top, they’re
made up of course because it’s practice. And then on the right-hand side, you’ve
got a box to pop-in your diagnosis codes and your procedure codes. Then, you hit submit.
Now, if you’re a real coder, off it goes and your next report pops up. But because
this is a training program, the rationale pops up and it gives you a score on how well
you did, and then you learn from it. You go, “Uh-oh. I coded a CPT code and they’re
showing they’re bundled.” And you read the rationale and you figure that, and you
go onto the next one. And you keep doing that and you start to build up your proficiency
and your speed of coding real cases, not multiple choice scenarios but real reports for a real
need to be a remote coder. So, we’re so excited about Practicode. It was a year ago,
if you can believe it, that we had announced working with the Practicode folks. Now we’ve
bundled it into a course which includes a weekly class that Alicia conducts and it’s
been going on really well, they go over cases. So things like this, if you want extra help
and you’ve got one like that, say, “Alicia, here’s one,” and you give the record number
where it’s located in Practicode. She will pull it up and you’ll go over it together
and break it down, so definitely a very good help.
Alicia: And another thing while Laureen was talking about that, that made me think, even
when I first started coding, I’m so excited. I know you can imagine me being excited, but
you know getting to code especially diagnosis codes, you will see inpatient encounters.
All of these things you know you can code, “Oh, they had a fever,” “Oh, they had
swollen feet,” oh they had this, they had this. Then you learned that you can’t do
signs and symptoms if you have a definitive diagnosis, and that’s the way you learn
with this as well. You see these encounters and you want to code everything, and then
you have to pull yourself back, and like Laureen said, it’s bundled. You can’t do a laparotomy
in, you know. You don’t get to code for them looking around whether they’re going
to take out your appendix. Laureen: And here’s a screenshot of Practicode
under Info page, it’s and you can see the document on the left-hand
side, and on the right hand side is where you pop-in the code. That’s not probably
very clear, but it gives you an idea of what it looks like. Now, the interesting thing
with this is that the makers of Practicode is a remote coding company called Aviacode.
Alicia: Right. Laureen: And Practicode is a scale-down version
of the real application that their coders use, so they will consider your proficiency
score. And the way Practicode works is you go in and you look at what, let’s say, orthopedics
or cardio, and you decide “OK, I’m going to become proficient at this specialty.”
If you just focus on those cases, you pick that module and you code one, you code the
next, you code the next, you’ll be painfully slow initially. And then you pick up speed,
speed, speed, because that’s how real coders start.
You got to start somewhere. And now you have this proficiency score, you
can apply for a job at Aviacode and they want you to be certified. But if you have zero
experience, you can say, “Yeah, but I did the practicum with CCO and I got my proficiency
up,” and they can actually look it up and say, “Oh, yeah. The last 30 days your proficiency’s
gotten up to 92%, [you’re] hired”! So, if they have a need, they need coders,
they’re getting new contracts all the time, so that to me is one of the pieces. A lot
of the courses we built and done had to do with pain points, like, “what are our students
experience out there that’s a pain point”? One of the pain points is: How do I get that
first job? So we wrote an eBook on how to help you get that first job. Then, it was
like we were going to try and build something like Practicode and then Lori Woods, she runs
the – what’s her Facebook group called? Don’t kill me, Lori.
Alicia: [Laughs] Laureen: If someone sees it in the chat, let
me know, Boyd. Alicia: That is weird. I’m always looking
at it [laughs]. practice, and take advantage of the weekly classes because that will really
help you get the most out of it. I was coming here for a reason, now I forgot.
Alicia: I think to show them where the Practicode courses, maybe.
Laureen: No. We just did that, or something else. I’m sorry. Something I wanted to show
them on the main site, but it just left me. It will come back.
Alicia: Because your brain is so full of knowledge [laughs]
Laureen: So, you know, Bob was out there talking about it, says, “You’ve got to talk to
Laureen.” Thank you, Create a Coder; I am going to get spanked so badly, so it’s Create
a Coder. And we had a chat and on that night, literally,
we were a year ago showing you on screen and he did a free giveaway and it’s been really
great. But you got to use it, got to get in and you got to do the practice, and take advantage
of the weekly classes because that will really help you get the most out of it.
I was coming here for a reason, now I forgot. Alicia: I think to show them where the Practicode
courses, maybe. Laureen: No. We just did that, or something
else. I’m sorry. Something I wanted to show them on the main site, but it just left me.
It will come back. Alicia: Because your brain is so full of knowledge

5 thoughts on “Medical Coding Tips — Coding Surgical Procedure

  1. There isn't any words to say how much you guys have helped me, I was struggling with procedures coding trying to find the correct CPT codes from a procedures report I've gotten a lot better I even manage to pass the medical coding/biller class.
    Thank u…..

  2. This is wonderful! I have attended a university for almost two years now working toward my Associates Degree and I have learned more from your videos than anything I have learned elsewhere. Thank you for all you do!

  3. I'm so glad i google…. and found this website…it's the best thing in the world, i wish my instructor's would teach like this..

  4. Hello ladies. I"m doing my externship at a local chiropractic office after taking the class. I find that when applying for jobs, every office requires at 1-2 years of experience. I also found out that AAPC has a practicode that takes away the "A" of Apprenticeship. Do you suggest to purchase this program and is this the same practicode that you talked about in this video? Thank you.

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