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General Surgery Coding Alert

Reader Question:

Best Bet: Choose One Graft Code

Question: We have a surgeon who is placing split-thickness skin grafts on burn patients and then placing skin substitute grafts over the split-thickness graft as a biological dressing. Sometimes he documents that he places the skin substitute with glue or staples. Can we charge for both types of grafts?Illinois SubscriberAnswer: You should be very cautious about billing for both types of grafts for a single site, although you may be able to do so in some circumstances. Split thickness graft procedures include bandages and dressings. That would include skin-substitute materials if they're applied as a wound dressing by laying, wrapping, or taping the material over the graft site. You should report the split thickness graft using the appropriate code such as 15120 (Split-thickness autograft, face, scalp, eyelids, mouth, neck, ears, orbits, genitalia, hands, feet, and/or multiple digits; first 100 sq. cm or less, or 1% of body area of infants [...]