Health Information Management

Tip: Remember to add fifth digit when coding malignant neoplasms of the skin

APCs Insider, September 30, 2011

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The CDC significantly expanded code series 173.x (other malignant neoplasms of the skin) by adding a fifth digit to each code in the series. For example, coders currently report a malignant neoplasm of the lip with code 173.0. After October 1, coders will need to know the type of malignancy in order to choose the correct codes:

• 173.00, Unspecified malignant neoplasm of skin of lip
• 173.01, Basal cell carcinoma of skin of lip
• 173.02, Squamous cell carcinoma of skin of lip
• 173.09, Other specified malignant neoplasm of skin of lip

The series still includes one code for unspecified malignant neoplasm, but coders should start asking physicians for additional documentation so they can select a more specific code.
In previous years, the coding has been limited because the codes were not specific to a particular type of malignancy despite the documentation provided by physicians

The tip is adapted from “Final regular ICD-9-CM code update continues trend of increased specificity” in the October issue of Briefings on APCs.



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