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Know When to Append Modifier 50 on Bilateral CTS Shots

Your orthopedist injects both of a patient’s wrists to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. Should you just file 20526 with modifier 50 appended and forget about it?
Not so fast: If the physician injects both the patient’s wrists to treat CTS, you will ty…

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Is Modifier 50 OK for Bilateral Radiology Exams?

Question: Our physician x-rayed a patient’s symptomatic knee and ordered an x-ray of the other knee for comparative purposes. How should we report the comparison x-ray?
Answer: Report the appropriate radiology code on two separate lines of your claim…

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No Correct Coding Initiative Bundle? Find Modifier Details in MPFS.

Question: Sometimes I cannot find my two-code pair in the CCI edits. How do I know which code would be considered a column 1 code and which would be considered a column 2 code, so that I could put my modifier on the correct code?

Answer: If the codes are not listed, the codes are not bundled per the Correct Coding Initiative (CCI). You would not need a CCI modifier, such as 25 (Significant, separately identifiable evaluation and management service by the same physician on  the same day of the procedure or other service), 57 (Decision for surgery), or 59 (Distinct procedural service), to override the edit when appropriate.

A private payer could have a black box edit. You would need to check with a rep for a recommendation.

Watch out: Just because a code does not have a bundle in CCI does not mean a modifier is out of the picture. While you won’t need a CCI modifier to override the edit, you might need apayment modifier.

You can find Medicare’s other allowed modifiers for any given CPT code in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS). Columns Y-AC indicate if modifier 51 (Multiple procedure), 50 (Bilateral procedure), etc. apply.

To determine which code receives modifier 51, you need to know the code’s relative value units, which are also listed in the MPFS. Private payers may not adjust claim items in descending order as Medicare’s Outpatient Code Editor software does. If you append modifier 51 to a higher valued item, the private payer may apply the adjustment based on your coding, costing you payment. You should instead list the items in descending relative value order from highest to lowest. Append modifier 51 to the lower priced procedure as necessary. The insurer will then apply the typical 50 percent,…

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How Do I Code a 2-Sided Nosebleed?

Heads up: 2 nosebleed codes are not the answer.
Question: A patient reports to the ED after sustaining injuries during a soccer match; she was hit in the face with a ball, her nose is bleeding, and her right eye is blackened. The physician is not able to stop the bleeding with ice or pressure, so […]

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Is 30901 Your Nosebleed Code? Not So Fast?

Hint: Look for these keywords in the note to select the correct nosebleed code.
Question: The internist stops a patient’s nosebleed. Is this always a procedure?
Answer: No, if a patient reports with a nosebleed and the physician stops the bleeding with basic methods, you’ll typically opt for the appropriate-level E/M code.
E/M methods: Code minimal attempts at […]

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