Office Manager, Findlay Anesthesia
Answer: If you are using a diagnosis of obesity with your claim, it is possible that your carrier is not seeing the relationship between the obesity code and the endotracheal intubation. In such cases, it is best to code to the immediate symptoms that prompted the call for an endotracheal tube placement. Diagnosis code 786.09 (respiratory distress/insufficiency) would be a correct code in this situation.
If the intubation is noted as stat or emergent, you want to use 518.82 (acute respiratory distress/insufficiency) or 518.81 (acute respiratory failure) as the diagnosis. The diagnosis code you choose will depend on the main symptoms documented on the patients chart by the anesthesiologist or CRNA who placed the endotracheal tube.