ED Charting and Coding: Review of Systems

review of systems medical-chart-canstockphoto13003631-ros

The Review of Systems (ROS) was the most frustrating aspect of charting as an intern. Documenting at least 10 elements from systems seemingly unrelated to the chief complaint took as long as a physical exam and was much harder to remember. For efficiency, many of us include any pertinent positives and negatives in the history of present illness (HPI) and use an ROS caveat such as “10/14 Review of Systems completed and is negative except as stated above in HPI (Systems reviewed: Const, Eyes, ENT, Resp, CV, GI, GU, MSK, Skin, Neuro)” or “A complete Review of Systems was obtained and is negative except as stated in HPI.

This obviates documenting 10 or more separate systems, but what if you’re at a site where the coders won’t accept a blanket phrase? Should you keep your lengthy HPI and then chart the same info again? Or can we devise a ROS that is at a minimum not redundant, and perhaps even helpful?

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By |2019-04-06T00:47:13-07:00Nov 2, 2016|Administrative|

ED Charting and Coding: History of Present Illness & Past Medical, Family, Social History

medical chart history of present illnessRemember the “OPQRST” mnemonic? It stands for Onset, Provocation/Palliation, Quality, Region/Radiation, Severity, Timing. Not only can it guide your history taking, but charting these descriptors also ensures you can code at an appropriate level. The patient’s history is the first example of the balance between essential information and over-documentation. It should be comprehensive, yet be chief-complaint focused [1]. Below, we outline the components of a thorough and billable history.

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By |2019-07-04T00:56:06-07:00Sep 5, 2016|Administrative|

PV Card: Introduction to ED Charting and Coding

ED charting and coding computer-charting-TEXT-canstockphoto17902161What makes a good chart? How do you write a good chart quickly? How about a good, efficient, billable chart? On average, residents and practicing physicians report they did not receive adequate training in charting and coding [1–3] and resident charts are more often down-coded due to documentation failures than those of attendings and PAs [4]. Thankfully, resident education in charting has improved over the past 15 years [5], and a little learning goes a long way to improve confidence [6] and competence [7].

In the spirit of #FOAMed, we would like to provide some pearls and pitfalls for EM documentation, starting with a PV card that addresses the basic elements of coding a chart. We hope it’s a handy on-shift reference.

What is a CPT code? What is an E/M level?

In order to uniformly bill for services provided, the American Medical Association (AMA) maintains a list of Current Procedure Terminology (CPT) codes. When you provide medical services to a patient, the chart is billed using a CPT code based on Evaluation & Management (E/M) levels 1-5 [8]. Most ED visits are billed as E/M levels 3-5. In order to objectively categorize a chart, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) created a coding system to assign an E/M level.

What is the difference between a lower and higher E/M level chart?

Three essential elements determine the E/M level: history, physical exam, and medical decision making (MDM). Each of these components is evaluated by a set of guidelines and categorized by the documented elements of the history/physical exam and complexity of MDM. After evaluating each essential element separately, all three are considered in choosing an E/M level and CPT code that is billed. The complexity of your MDM should ultimately determine your E/M level, but under-charting in another area will limit you from billing an appropriately high E/M level.

On your next shift, take a second to review your charts. Could one additional word in the history of present illness (HPI) bump a level 3 up to a level 4? Did you mention your chart biopsy, even if it was just skimming the most recent discharge summary or yesterday’s note? The following PV card outlines the minimum elements needed from all 3 areas required to code specific E/M levels, and shows that a single word or phrase may be the difference in clarifying a higher level of care provided.

Keep an eye out for our follow-up posts. We’ll focus on individual sections of the chart (history, physical examination, MDM), specific diagnoses and special situations that require extra care when documenting.

Happy charting!

 

References

  1. Howell J, Chisholm C, Clark A, Spillane L. Emergency medicine resident documentation: results of the 1999 american board of emergency medicine in-training examination survey. Acad Emerg Med. 2000;7(10):1135-1138. [PubMed]
  2. Pines J, Braithwaite S. Documentation and coding education in emergency medicine residency programs: a national survey of residents and program directors. Cal J Emerg Med. 2004;5(1):3-8. [PubMed]
  3. Dawson B, Carter K, Brewer K, Lawson L. Chart smart: a need for documentation and billing education among emergency medicine residents? West J Emerg Med. 2010;11(2):116-119. [PubMed]
  4. Ardolic B, Weizberg M, Cambria B, et al. 362: Documentation and Coding Skills: Is There Adequate training in Emergency Medicine Residency? Ann Emerg Med. 2006;48(4):108.
  5. Heiner J, Dunbar J, Harrison T, Kang C. 426: Current Emergency Medicine Residency Education of Documentation, Coding, and Reimbursement: Fitting the Bill? Ann Emerg Med. 2010;56(3):137-138.
  6. Takacs M, Stilley J. 169: Billing and Coding Shift for Emergency Medicine Residents: A Win-Win-Win Proposition. Ann Emerg Med. 2015;66(4):60.
  7. Carter K, Dawson B, Brewer K, Lawson L. RVU ready? Preparing emergency medicine resident physicians in documentation for an incentive-based work environment. Acad Emerg Med. 2009;16(5):423-428.
  8. Evaluation and Management Services Guidelines. Dept of Health & Human Services: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNProducts/Downloads/eval-mgmt-serv-guide-ICN006764.pdf. Published August 2015. Accessed July 24, 2016.
By |2021-10-02T19:19:22-07:00Aug 15, 2016|Administrative, ALiEM Cards|

Paucis Verbis: EMTALA rules in the transfer of ED patients

NoDumping

In U.S. academic emergency departments, decisions to accept patients is typically easy, because you have ready access to on-call physicians. When in doubt, accept transfer patients and sort things out later.

  • What are the obligations for those transferring patients to other EDs?
  • What do the EMTALA (a.k.a. “anti-dumping”) rules say?
  • When can you transfer unstable patients?

As a general rule, the liability falls upon the transferring site and physician. So be sure that your patient won’t decompensate in the ambulance during transfer. So, don’t transfer that CP patient who is getting ruled-out for an MI or ACS no matter how good they look. Patients need to be stable for transfer.

Anyone with pearls to share?
Thanks to @EMurgentologist for tweeting me the idea!

PV Card: EMTALA Transfer Rules


Go to ALiEM (PV) Cards for more resources.

Further Reading:

By |2021-10-08T10:27:31-07:00Sep 14, 2012|Administrative, ALiEM Cards|
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