Health Information Management

Q&A: Coding for dry skin due to cold weather

HIM-HIPAA Insider, May 29, 2012

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A: The ICD-9-CM tabular list indicates the following:

Dry, dryness—See also condition
Skin syndrome 701.1
 
Note that the term syndrome is not parenthetical, which means it must be part of a physician’s diagnosis to justify this code assignment. The index does not include a specific entry for dry skin alone. You should query the physician regarding the underlying cause.
 
Subterms in the description of code 701.1 include ichtyosis, elastosis, hyperkeratosis, keratoderma, and keratosis. This is not a complete list of subterms, but it does seem to encompass dermatologic findings that go well beyond a simple statement of dry skin.
 
An instructional term near the index entry directs coders to also refer to the condition causing the dryness. The ICD-10-CM index states the following:
 
Dry, dryness—See also condition
 
No further entry in this section pertains to dry skin alone. Additional physician clarification is necessary. Don’t assume other codes, such as 706.8 (other specified diseases of sebaceous glands), would suffice. Neither the ICD-9-CM diagnosis index nor Coding Clinic instructs coders to report 706.8 for dry skin. Consider querying physicians about code 709.8 (other specified disorder of the skin). This code denotes chapped skin, for example.
 
Editor’s Note: Jean Stone, RHIT, CCS, coding manager at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., answered this question in the June issue of Briefings on Coding Compliance Strategies.



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