COVID-19 Explained: Screening for Suspected COVID-19 Infection
This article offers guidelines on how to code screening tests for suspected COVID-19 infection. There are two different kinds of tests for COVID-19: a viral test to detect a current Coronavirus infection, and an antibody test to confirm is the patient previously had COVID-19 (CDC, 2020). The CDC has issued guidance on conducting screening tests for COVID-19 and other recommendations for viral testing (2020).
Do you want to learn the new coding guidelines for COVID-19 infections and testing? Sign up for our Respiratory Diagnoses Hot Topics Webinar and find out how to code Coronavirus infections, symptoms, screening, and patient encounters. The webinar on hot coding topics provides an overview of the Official Coding Guidelines for COVID-19. See more here.
How to code the tests for suspected COVID-19 infection
This excerpt from the ICD-10-CM Official Coding and Reporting Guidelines outlines how to code screening for suspected Coronavirus infection (CDC, 2020):
“e) Screening for COVID-19: For asymptomatic individuals who are being screened for COVID-19 and have no known exposure to the virus, and the test results are either unknown or negative, assign code Z11.59, Encounter for screening for other viral diseases. For individuals who are being screened due to a possible or actual exposure to COVID-19, see guideline d).
“If an asymptomatic individual is screened for COVID-19 and tests positive, see guideline g).
“g) Asymptomatic individuals who test positive for COVID-19: For asymptomatic individuals who test positive for COVID-19, assign code U07.1, COVID-19. Although the individual is asymptomatic, the individual has tested positive and is considered to have the COVID-19 infection.”
Read our article, “CDC Releases Updated Coding & Reporting Guidelines for U07.1,” for the full coding and reporting guidelines for COVID-19 symptoms, infection, and screening tests, which are effective April 1 through September 30. Our previous articles, “AMA Releases Two New CPT Codes for COVID-19 Antibody Detection,” and “Selecting the Right COVID-19 Code: Should You Use CPT or HCPCS,” provide additional coding and reporting guidelines for COVID-19 laboratory tests.
Part 1 in the “COVID-19 Explained” Series explores the Coronavirus’ history, and how to code suspected exposure to the virus. Part 2 dives into the ICD-10 codes for the Coronavirus symptoms and infection.
The Respiratory Diagnoses Hot Topics Webinar provides an overview of the Official Coding Guidelines for COVID-19, as well as how to code the Coronavirus infections, symptoms, testing, and patient encounters. See more here.