Health Information Management

Q&A: Coding for dysphagia

JustCoding News: Outpatient, November 18, 2009

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QUESTION: Would you code dysphagia with the following documentation? The patient:

  • Has Parkinson’s disease
  • Weighs 64 lbs.
  • Is on a dysphagia diet
  • Has issues with dysphagia
  • Has slow esophageal motility
  • Has a negative evaluation for dysphagia

ANSWER: Dysphagia is difficulty swallowing. Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include difficulty in swallowing and chewing, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, one of the US National Institutes of Health. Therefore, you would not code dysphagia separately because it is a component of Parkinson’s disease and not a separate health condition.

In addition, the documentation specifically states that there is no separate confirmed diagnosis of dysphagia, meaning you should code only the Parkinson’s disease with ICD-9-CM code 332.0 (Paralysis agitans [Parkinson’s disease NOS]).

Editor’s note: Shelley C. Safian, MAOM/HSM, CCS-P, CPC-H, CHA, of Safian Communications Services in Orlando, FL, answered this question. She is a senior assistant professor who teaches medical billing and insurance coding at Herzing University Online in Milwaukee, WI. E-mail her at

This answer was provided based on limited information submitted to Be sure to review all documentation specific to your own individual scenario before determining appropriate code assignment.

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