What Are the Coding Resources to Help Me Code Correctly?
Norman A. Cohen MD
Because correct coding leads to proper payment, and incorrect coding can be very expensive, a plethora of coding resources from many sources are available to physicians. This chapter describes the basic resources that I think every anesthesiologist should have available to code correctly:
Current-year Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Standard Edition
Current-year American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Relative Value Guide
Current-year ASA Crosswalk
In addition, I also describe a few other resources that can be very helpful in addressing more complex coding needs.
AMA CURRENT PROCEDURAL TERMINOLOGY (CPT)*
The American Medical Association (AMA) publishes two versions of the annual CPT manual, a standard edition and a more detailed professional edition. In addition, the AMA also publishes a number of periodicals to provide correct coding advice (CPT Assistant) and updates on changes in the CPT (CPT Changes). The AMA also offers electronic versions of CPT and its family of publications, including the excellent Code Manager. I refer any reader interested in procedural coding (and most anesthesiologists should be) to the AMA website (www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/3113.html) for information on purchasing AMA coding resources.
At a minimum, I believe that every anesthesiologist should have a copy of the CPT Standard Edition for the current year. Personally, I prefer the CPT Professional Edition, as it includes a number of additional features, such as anatomic and procedural illustrations, and coding rules and guidelines. The cost for either is fairly reasonable, and with an AMA membership, the purchaser receives a substantial discount. You are a member of the AMA, aren’t you?
CPT undergoes many changes every year, so using an out-of-date copy can easily lead to coding errors. Always use coding products that are up to date!
For those who want to go beyond the basics, I strongly recommend Code Manager, an electronic resource that includes CPT, International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-9, Medicare Diagnosis Related Groups (DRG’s), Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) codes, and more. A subscription to CPT Assistant is invaluable. An archive of previous CPT Assistant articles is also available for purchase in electronic form, and this archive can be referenced from Code Manager or as a stand-alone product. The CPT Professional Edition includes all references to CPT Assistant articles for every code. All of these products and more are available from the web address cited above.