ICD 9 coding: Pay attention to these three warnings when using E-codes


You should be familiar with E codes in case you report injuries or poisonings. However, before you turn to these codes, see to it that you keep in mind these three warnings that will prevent your claim from getting tripped up by a denial.

Do not miss out on the E codes’ purpose

E codes point to the external causes of injuries and poisonings as well as the adverse effects of drugs and substances. These are considered special ICD-9 diagnosis codes which you can use normally to report accidents, injuries or diseases. You can go for E codes in association with regular ICD-9 codes.

Do not do this: You should never report E codes as your major code since they only indicate the cause of injury/poisonings and not the resulting injury/condition. Always use E codes in addition to a numerical ICD-9 code that describes the injury itself. It may be required to assign more than one E code to explain each cause fully.

Be specific about your E codes

Improving E code reporting can benefit auto insurance companies, disability insurers, health insurance plans, public payers, healthcare purchasers, employers, businesses, labor unions, schools and other entities keen on injury prevention and safety issues. However does it provide too much ‘up-front’ information about patient’s behavior /lifestyle?

Take the example of the patient who’s admitted to the ICU for acute respiratory distress related to an unintentional narcotic overdose. If reported right, the diagnosis on the claim form would appear as 518.82. But in actuality, only 518.82 gets reported since the doctors and billers are less familiar with the use of E codes and their implications.

Take more risks while reporting certain E codes

There are E codes for reporting surgical mishaps. Although you could bill these codes should the need arises, you’d want to keep hoping you may never have to come face to face with these needs. These two new codes talk about situations that are thought of as never events; this means they represent surgical mistakes that shouldn’t happen.

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