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Published: 01st July 2010
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A patient entered the emergency department with severe abdominal pain. The physician who was attending it diagnosed it as appendicitis, and considered it to be an emergency case. But still the patient was admitted and was in observation for 40 minutes before surgery took place. Can you report +99140 for this?

Answer: Code with 99140 (Anesthesia complicated by emergency conditions (specify) (List separately in addition to code for primary anesthesia procedure. 99140 is one of the four add-on codes which explain qualifying circumstances (QC). These cover complicating factors that can change how your anesthesiologist takes care of a patient.

The CPT manual makes a note in its description of 99140 defining an emergency as existing when delay in treatment of the patient would lead to a big increase in the threat to life or body parts.

At times your anesthesiologist will report a case as an emergency because the patient was admitted via the emergency department (ED).

If you are not sure about the details of the case, or whether your anesthesiologist is simply reporting where the patient came in, talk with him and discuss details of the encounter and identify any diagnosis.

For +99140 as well as other QC codes, think that you will add one, two or five extra units to your procedure code, depending on which code applies.

Remember: Do not report QC codes without the primary anesthesia procedure code, like 00840.

For more tips such as this, sign up for a one-stop medical coding guide and stay informed. When you sign up for one, you'll be sure +99140 really is an emergency apart from getting to know all the CPT codes online.

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