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Family Practice Coding Alert


All Staff Can Perform History Element

Question: My coworker thinks a family physician must take a patient's history, but I think a nurse can perform this duty. Who's right?

California Subscriber
Answer: Any employee can take the history. In fact, the E/M service documentation guidelines state that ancillary staff may record the review of systems (ROS) and/or past family social history (PFSH). Although nurses often record this information, a front-desk staff member may even perform the function. The FP or nurse practitioner, however, must complete the history of present illness (HPI).

Be careful: The FP must sign off on the patient's chart and must indicate that he reviewed the history notes. Documentation should include a notation supplementing or confirming the information that others recorded. Make sure the physician signs off on any incident-to services, such as 99211 (Office or other outpatient visit for the evaluation and management of an established patient ...), as well as higher-level E/M services (e.g., 99212-99215).

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