Oncology & Hematology Coding Alert

Think Twice Before Reporting 2 Radiation Treatments per Day


- Published on Thu, May 12, 2005

A distinct break in same-day services could mean double the funds

Quick quiz: Your department administers complex portal arrangements via photons using 14 MeV radiation to two separate treatment areas during one session. How many units of 77409 should you report?

Find out what our radiation oncology experts have to say about when you should - and shouldn't - code radiation treatment more than once a day.

Read Up on CMS Multiple Treatment Rule

You may report codes 77401 through 77416 more than once per date of service only when the patient receives radiation treatment "during completely different sessions," says CMS program memorandum A-03-020 (on page 8, available at www.cms.hhs.gov/manuals/pm_trans/A03020.pdf).

Unfortunately, CMS doesn't define "completely different sessions." Best bet: Typically, payers want a six-hour break between twice-daily radiation treatments, says Pamela Moore, CPC, patient representative at Moll Cancer Center in Ohio. And if you have a three-times-daily order, payers usually want a four-hour break.

Don't overlook: Providers often talk about "weekly management," but 77427 (Radiation treatment management, five treatments) specifically says "five treatments," says Marc Halman, administrative director of the University of Michigan Department of Radiation Oncology. If your physician orders twice-a-day treatment and sees the patient every five treatments, you should report 77427 every five treatments, or two and a half days.

Pay Attention to Protocol for BID Treatment

Doctors order treatment two (BID) - or three (TID) - times a day according to protocol for the specific type of cancer treatment, Halman says.

Example: A Connecticut Medicare patient presents with intensive liver cancer. Protocol calls for two treatments (complex) eight hours apart on the same date of service, using 20 MeV each time.

Solution: In this case, report the code for treatment twice, Halman says. Because you are using 20 MeV on one site, claim two units of 77416 (Radiation treatment delivery, three or more separate treatment areas, custom blocking, tangential ports, wedges, rotational beam, compensators, special particle beam [e.g., electron or neutrons]; 20 MeV or greater).

Here's why: You have documentation of a break in treatment, meaning you have two separate sessions. Note: Empire Medicare (Part A carrier for New York, Massachusetts, Delaware and Connecticut) holds a policy similar to many other payers, claiming that the individual sessions must be "of the character usually furnished on different days." (See the policy at www.empiremedicare.com/Newypolicy/policy/RD013E_FINAL.htm.)

You also have the doctor's order for twice a day, which is a must, Moore says. You should also look for documentation of the medical necessity for twice-daily treatment in the consult note and a prescription order for twice a day to support coding treatment twice in one day, she adds.

Helpful: In the rare circumstance that your doctor's protocol calls for a shorter-than-usual break [...]

Oncology & Hematology Coding Alert
Issue - May, 2005
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