Color Coding

Not all codes in coding system are as precise and clear as medical coders want them to be.  Most of them are clear, but sometimes code use might be tricky depending on specifications. For this reason these codes are colored to alert the coder to important edits and issues. To code accurately and effectively, one should follow the instructions and pay attention to these important notifications.

A manifestation code  cannot be used as a primary code and describes the manifestation of underlying disease. Etiology should be recorded first and the particular manifestation must be used in conjunction and must be recorded secondarily.

Other specified codes include “not elsewhere classified” (NEC) and “other.” These codes are used when the coder has the specified information but the ICD-9 system is missing the specific description for the diagnosis. In this case as no more specific code can be provided, the coder needs to use the code that is available.

Unspecified codes, however, may be stated as “unspecified” and “not otherwise specified” (NOS). Unspecified codes are used when information in medical record is insufficient or the coder doesn’t have enough information to assign a more specific code.

All these code-specific color highlights, as many other conventions, were developed to ensure correct code selection and increase speed and effectiveness of medical coding. You can find them in all current-year manuals for diagnostic and procedural coding.

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