Medicare: Debridement Services in the Shoulder

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September 24, 2015

Question:
We attend courses and receive education from KZA consistently on orthopaedic coding. Our practice recently hired a new billing manager and she states that the information we have been given is incorrect for Medicare related to arthroscopic debridement services. The billing managers external resource told her that 29822 or 29823 can be reported with other arthroscopic shoulder services as long there is no NCCI edit in place. We are telling the new manager that this is incorrect for Medicare.

Can you please help validate what we perceived we heard from KZA is correct? To re-state, our question evolves around reporting debridement services (CPT codes 29822 and 29823) to Medicare when the patient has other arthroscopic shoulder procedures on the same shoulder. We understood, and have told the new billing manager, that the debridement services are considered inclusive to other arthroscopic procedures performed and reported on the same day if the debridement services are performed on the same shoulder. Our manager is telling us that if there is no edit in place, for example with CPT code 29826 and 29822, that we can report both to Medicare. Again, for clarification, she cites a non-KZA resource person.

Answer:
Thanks for your loyalty and reaching out. Based on the information provided, you accurately perceived the instructions for reporting arthroscopic shoulder procedures to Medicare. While there are no NCCI edits between some of the arthroscopic procedures and either CPT code 29822 or 29823, it is considered incorrect coding to report one of these debridement codes in addition to other arthroscopic shoulder procedures performed on the ipsilateral or same shoulder. One common error in coding according to Column 1 and Column 2 code edits is assuming if there is no edit, that the code combination may be reported together.

The following source information used by KZA in all orthopaedic instructions is found in the January 2015 NCCI Musculoskeletal Chapter 4:
“4. With the exception of the knee joint, arthroscopic debridement should not be reported separately with a surgical arthroscopy procedure when performed on the same joint at the same patient encounter. For knee joint arthroscopic debridement see the following paragraph.”

While a Column 1 or Column 2 edit may not exist in the Excel database, these written guidelines provide additional coding information in addition to the Column 1 and Column 2 edit. CPT codes 29822 or 29823 are not reportable with other arthroscopic shoulder procedures on the same shoulder, same session.
*This response is based on the best information available as of 09/24/15.

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