Corinne Posted Tue 19th of March, 2013 17:48:09 PM
Why are we getting denials from CMS for '17110' code for viral warts (078.19)?
SuperCoder Answered Wed 20th of March, 2013 14:58:32 PM
Benign skin lesions are common in the elderly and are frequently removed at the patient's request to improve appearance. Removals of certain benign skin lesions that do not pose a threat to health or function are considered cosmetic, and as such, are not covered by the Medicare program. These cosmetic reasons include, but are not limited to, emotional distress, "makeup trapping," and non-problematic lesions in any anatomic location. Lesions in sensitive anatomical locations that are not creating problems do not qualify for removal coverage on the basis of location alone.
Benign skin lesions to which the accompanying lesion removal policy applies are the following: seborrheic
keratoses, sebaceous (epidermoid) cysts, skin tags, moles (nevi), acquired hyperkeratosis (keratoderma),
molluscum contagiosum, milia and viral warts.Medicare covers the destruction of actinic keratoses without restrictions based on lesion or patient characteristics.
There may be instances in which the removal of benign seborrheic keratoses, sebaceous cysts, skin tags, moles(nevi), acquired hyperkeratosis (keratoderma), molluscum contagiosum, milia and viral warts is medically appropriate. Medicare will, therefore, consider their removal as medically necessary, and not cosmetic, if one or more of the following conditions are presented and clearly documented in the medical record:
• Intense itching;
• Change in physical appearance (reddening or pigmentary change);
• Recent enlargement;
• Increase in the number of lesions;
• Physical evidence of inflammation or infection, e.g., purulence, oozing, edema, erythema, etc.;
• Lesion obstructs an orifice;
• Lesion clinically restricts eye function. For example:
a. Lesion restricts eyelid function;
b. lesion causes misdirection of eyelashes or eyelid;
c. lesion restricts lacrimal puncta and interferes with tear flow;
d. lesion touches globe;
• Clinical uncertainty as to the likely diagnosis, particularly where malignancy is a realistic consideration based on lesion appearance;
• A prior biopsy suggests or is indicative of lesion malignancy;
• The lesion is in an anatomical region subject to recurrent physical trauma, and there is documentation
that such trauma has, in fact, occurred;
• Recent enlargement, history of rupture or previous inflammation, or location subjects patient to risk of
rupture of epidermal inclusion (sebaceous) cyst.
• Wart removals will be covered under the guidelines above. In addition, wart destruction will be covered
when any of the following clinical circumstances are present:
a. Periocular warts associated with chronic recurrent conjunctivitis thought secondary to lesion virus shedding;
b. Warts showing evidence of spread from one body area to another, particularly in immunosuppressed patients or warts of recent origin in an immunocompromised patients;
c. Lesions are condyloma acuminata or molluscum contagiosum;
d. Cervical dysplasia or pregnancy is associated with genital warts.
Medicare will not pay for a separate E & M service on the same day as a dermatologic service unless a
documented significant and separately identifiable medical service is rendered. The service must be fully and clearly documented in the patient’s medical record and a modifier 25 should be used.Medicare will not pay for a separate E & M service by the operating physician during the global period unless the service is for a medical problem unrelated to the surgical procedure. The service must be fully and clearly documented in the patient’s medical record. If the beneficiary wishes one or more of these benign asymptomatic lesions removed for cosmetic purposes, the beneficiary becomes liable for the service rendered. The physician has the responsibility to notify the patient in advance that Medicare will not cover cosmetic dermatological surgery and that the beneficiary will be liable for the cost of the service. It is strongly advised that the beneficiary, by his or her signature, accept responsibility for payment. Charges should be clearly stated as well.The type of removal is at the discretion of the treating physician and the appropriateness of the technique used will not be a factor in deciding if a lesion merits removal. However, a benign lesion excision (CPT 11400-11446) must have medical record documentation as to why an excisional removal, other than for cosmetic purposes, was the surgical procedure of choice. Excision is defined as full-thickness (through the dermis)removal of a lesion, including margins, and includes simple (non-layered) closure when performed. Each benign lesion excised should be reported separately. Code selection is determined by measuring the greatest clinical diameter of the apparent lesion plus that margin required for complete excision (lesion diameter plus the most narrow margins required equals the excised diameter). The margins refer to the most narrow marginrequired to adequately excise the lesion, based on the physician's judgment. The measurement of lesion plus margin is made prior to excision.