Ebola Basics for Coders

ebola articleI recently read an article in the January 2015 edition of Healthcare Business Monthly published by the American Academy of Professional Coders. The beginning of the article says “As a coding professional, you may not see patients with Ebola, but you should be familiar with its etiology, reporting guidelines, and your practice’s protocol in the event a patient presents with Ebola-like symptoms.” The article then addressed the symptoms related to Ebola and the proper coding of this condition.

The symptoms of Ebola include a fever higher than 100.4 F (38.0 C), severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and unexplained hemorrhage. The article also talked about the origin of Ebola and how you can be exposed to this condition. It says “Ebola is a hemorrhage fever thought to come from bats. First detected in 1976, the virus has had five major outbreaks in West Africa, and has caused more than 2,700 deaths.” At the present time there is not an FDA-approved vaccine for Ebola.

The article says “Ebola can only be spread through direct contact with an infected individual’s blood or bodily fluids, with objects contaminated with the virus, or with infected animals.” It also says that the highest risk of exposure to Ebola comes from percutaneous or mucous membrane exposure to blood or body fluids.

The diagnosis code for Ebola in ICD-10-CM is A98.4 Ebola virus disease. The code for Ebola in ICD-9-CM is 078.89. Other specified diseases due to viruses. This code is not as specific as the code in ICD-10. This is an example of why ICD-10 needs to be implemented in the Unites States (see our post on that here).

The last part of the article addressed ways a practice can prepare for Ebola and other infectious disease. These include:

• Posting signs prompting anyone who has traveled internationally in the past month to inform the front desk personnel upon checking in.
• Educating all staff members about the Ebola virus and answering any questions from patients.
• Posting all of this information on your website and updating your patients with new information regularly.

At the end of the article, the author says “Knowledge is power. When healthcare staff and patients know what to do in a particular situation, they are empowered and feel less stressed and afraid.” The more knowledge each healthcare worker has the better equipped they are to treat the patients they encounter on a daily basis—and for coders, this includes knowing how to best code a condition!

For more information on this topic, review the article in the January 2015 edition of Healthcare Business Monthly, https://aapcperfect.s3.amazonaws.com/5548A1AF-4C9F-49A2-BFE0-BFA7D2344700/f3d29ede-d6cb-4af3-bf8e-7e6c513addf1/51eb9914-f479-4e5c-a567-0c0d163684ee.pdf

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