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Pathology/Lab Coding Alert

Here's How to Use the Mystery FOBT Code

Remember, G0394 is not for screening

Here's a head-scratcher--Medicare cleaned up screening fecal-occult blood test (FOBT) coding for 2007 by eliminating the need for a HCPCS level II code--then added a different HCPCS level II FOBT code. So, what should you do? Here's the advice from the experts.

You haven't been using G0107 (Colorectal cancer screening; fecal-occult blood test, 1-3 simultaneous determinations) since Medicare deleted the code effective Jan. 1. But do you know how to use the code added at the same time--G0394, Blood occult test (e.g., guaiac), feces, for single determination for colorectal neoplasm (e.g., patient was provided three cards or single triple card for consecutive collection)? Get the Nitty-Gritty on G0394 Although the deleted HCPCS code was for screening, new code G0394 doesn't appear to be.

Confusion: Nobody's quite sure what you-re supposed to use G0394 for. On the one hand, it's clearly not a screening code because it's not on the -screening list,- says Melanie Witt, RN, CPC-OGS, MA, a coding expert based out of Guadalupita, N.M. On the other hand, it contains the reference to a -single determination- as well as to providing the patient with cards to obtain two or more samples.

So far, one carrier, Highmark Blue Shield, has weighed in on G0394 and instructed providers to use it for diagnostic FOBTs. That still doesn't explain how you can have a -single determination- as well as three cards, coding experts say.

Tip: You should keep using diagnostic code 82272 (Blood, occult, by peroxidase activity [e.g., guaiac], qualitative, feces, single specimen [e.g., from digital rectal exam]) when your physician only collects one sample in the office and doesn't send the patient home with cards, says Jan Rasmussen, CPC, AGS-GI, ACS-OB, president of Professional Coding Solutions in Eau Claire, Wis.

Rasmussen says one CMS official told her you could use G0394 if the patient is on -high-risk meds that cause GI bleeding.- You would bill this code with a diagnosis of high-risk medication, she says.

Bottom line: There are two situations when you might be able to use G0394, Witt says:

1. The patient comes in with a complaint including rectal bleeding, the doctor takes a sample in the office to confirm the diagnosis, and then sends the patient home with cards to obtain more samples.

2. The patient took cards home to check for rectal bleeding, and as a result of that test, the doctor takes an additional sample in the office.
Important: -Medicare developed this code for Medicare, so I wouldn't use this with any other payers,- Witt says.

Watch for NCCI bundles: To ensure that you do not report G0394 with any other FOBT code, the National Correct Coding Initiative bundled this code with 82270, 82272 and 82274. [...]

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