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Anesthesia Coding Alert

Prepare for OIG scrutiny of transforaminal epidurals

Verify that you're counting injections and levels correctly to keep claims clean. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) Work Plan for 2010 includes a closer look at Medicare payments for transforaminal epidural injections. The Work Plan specifically states, "We will review Medicare claims to determine the appropriateness of Medicare Part B payments for transforaminal epidural injections." Stay out of the OIG crosshairs by ensuring that your pain management specialist documents each procedure thoroughly. Follow these steps to count levels and assign the appropriate codes correctly. 1. Understand What ‘Transforaminal' Means Physicians often administer transforaminal epidurals laterally through the selected neuroforamen under fluoroscopy, says Joanne Mehmert, CPC, CCS-P, president of Joanne Mehmert and Associates in Kansas City, Mo. Once there, the physician performs an injection at the nerve root area to help relieve the patient's pain. The medication goes into the anterior epidural space, "bathing" a specific spinal nerve as it exits [...]

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