Recently, it was announced that the 2017 ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting was released. The newest iteration of the Guidelines can be accessed and downloaded from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ website for those who are interested. According to reports, the latest version has several key changes and the newly established guidelines actually explain what changes have been made to the code set.
It’s important to note that four organizations are responsible for approving the Guidelines before they are released. These organizations are the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS), the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), and the American Hospital Association (AHA).
What are the ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines?
Many people wonder what the Guidelines are. Essentially, the Guidelines are a set of rules that must be followed by healthcare professionals. They were developed to accompany the instructions set forth by the ICD-10-CM. However, the instructions set forth by the ICD-10-CM take precedence over the Guidelines. When diagnosis codes are assigned to patients’ medical records, medical coders must adhere to the Guidelines. This is required and mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All healthcare providers in the U.S. have adopted the diagnosis codes under HIPAA.
Why are the ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines So Important?
Medical billers and coders have a difficult job to do as they must assign the correct diagnosis codes to patients’ records. Failure to do so can have an adverse impact not only on healthcare professionals administering treatment, but also patients. Therefore, healthcare providers and medical coders must work as a team to ensure all documentation is correct. This includes the assignment of codes as well as documentation of procedures, treatments, and diagnosis. The guidelines were specifically created to help medical coders and healthcare providers when they need to identify diagnosis. If these diagnosis codes did not exist, patient documents would not be accurate. Furthermore, other healthcare providers who may need to review a patient’s record would have a difficult time understanding what conditions the patient has been diagnosed with as well as the treatments he/she has received. The codes ensure that all professionals involved have only the most accurate, up-to-date information and protect the patient.
If you have additional questions related to the 2017 ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, we encourage to visit CDC.gov for more detailed information.