A Helpful Coding Almanac

Vol. 17 •Issue 1 • Page 29
Book Review

A Helpful Coding Almanac

With the rising costs of medical services and the decrease in reimbursement, correct coding is vital for maximum payment. To acquire the necessary codes and maximize reimbursement, the coder must assign the proper and correct codes.

The Good Coders’ Almanac is the perfect resource for those coders who need an extra description to code CPT charges correctly. This book is written in plain English, so even a novice can decipher the correct code(s) to use. The format of The Good Coders’ Almanac is written in a way that makes it easy to locate the proper codes to use. The book’s layout enables the user to readily locate and understand the correct codes.

The book begins with an explanation of the evaluation and management (E/M) service categories. Each E/M section is then divided into comprehensive categories such as office visits, hospital visits and consultations. A further breakdown of office visits (new and established patients) and hospital visits (initial and subsequent) subcategorize the E/M codes. Those subcategories are then further classified by the nature of the physician work in regard to type of service, place of service and patient status. Within each CPT code is a detailed explanation of that code with a brief explanation of who can use the code and how often the code can be used. Each code is written in layman’s terms with a very brief example of code usage, offering an “including” and “excluding” explanation.

Following the E/M CPT codes are the 14 various surgical systems of the human body. Each CPT code in the surgical section is arranged in numerical order. This formula enables a coder at any level to locate the proper code for each procedure. Needed additional procedures are also listed within the body of the layman’s description, guiding the coder to maximize the coding principals.

Directly following the surgical system CPT codes are the CPT codes for the other hospital specialties. For example, radiology codes are listed in alphabetical order with the CPT description and layman’s description of each code.

Immediately following radiology are the CPT codes for pathology and lab. The book concludes with medicine and anesthesia. The anesthesia section has an additional section that lists the procedure to anesthesia code linkage. This section is broken down into columns that list the CPT anesthesia code(s) with the linked code(s) in the column directly beside them.

The last page of the reference manual has a campus bookstore order form in which copies of the book can be ordered. The handy order form also lists a toll free number and Web site, which enables anyone to acquire this must-have tool to ensure proper coding.

The Medical Management Institute (MMI) is known for publishing exceptional reference material and this book is no exception. The back cover of the book displays additional reference material from coding books to payment schedules. Because of MMI’s reputation and affordability, almost everyone can have access to its publications. With a wealth of well-documented reference tools, most physician offices and hospital facilities will be assured they are receiving the proper payments at their initial submission.

Correct code usage is vital to maximize reimbursement for all facilities. Having the proper tools and reference material to ensure the correct code(s) are used is a must for all experienced and inexperienced coders. The Good Coders’ Almanac is the perfect tool to ensure proper coding each and every time.

Susanne R. Kessler is the manager of transcription and registries at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

The Good Coders’ Almanac
By Peter Gordon, RMC, with contributing authors Michael Bugg; Hannah Smith, RN; and Bethany Creel, RMC, CPC, The Medical Management Institute, 2005, 622 pages