Health Information Management

Q&A: Coding for an encounter during which a patient stops breathing in the physician’s office

JustCoding News: Outpatient, July 14, 2010

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QUESTION: I need help coding for an emergency care visit that occurred in the office. A patient stopped breathing in the office, and with resuscitative efforts we were able to revive him. During this time, we maintained an airway, added oxygen, started an IV, and performed cardiac monitoring. We spent approximately 30 minutes with the patient before the ambulance took him away. Can I report an evaluation and management (E/M) code for this encounter?

ANSWER: From the limited details you provided, an E/M code would not be appropriate because no separate and specific evaluation and/or management services were provided above that which is already included in the code for performing the cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). I would recommend reporting CPT® code 92950 for the CPR (e.g., in cardiac arrest).

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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