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Orthopedic Coding Alert

Chondroplasty Coding:

Looking for Regs on the '15-Minute Rule'? Look No Further

If leafing through pages of the Federal Register is not your cup of tea, we can help.

In our October 2004 article "You've Got G0289 Questions? We've Got Answers," we stated that CMS softened its so-called "15-minute rule" - the requirement that a surgeon had to spend at least 15 minutes performing chondroplasty to warrant billing G0289 (Arthroscopy, knee, surgical, for removal of loose body, foreign body, debridement/shaving of articular cartilage [chondroplasty] at the time of other surgical knee arthroscopy in a different compartment of the same knee) with meniscectomy codes.

Several subscribers have written to us and asked where they can access the Nov. 7, 2003, Federal Register citation that indicates the 15-minute rule was intended merely as a guideline and not necessarily as a hard and fast rule.

To find this information, you can either visit the Government Printing Office's Web site at or contact our editor Torrey Kim, MA, CPC (via e-mail at, or by telephone at 985-951-9008) if you'd like us to fax you the applicable pages of the Federal Register.

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