Intraoperative Nerve Monitoring Coding Guide. March 1, 2010

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1 Intraoperative Nerve Monitoring Coding Guide March 1, 2010 Please direct any questions to: Kim Brew Manager Reimbursement and Therapy Access Medtronic ENT (904) Rev 9/10 KB

2 TO OUR PARTNERS IN HEALTH CARE This document provides general reimbursement information provided to assist in obtaining coverage and reimbursement for healthcare services. These coding suggestions do not replace seeking coding advice from the payer and/or your own coding staff. The ultimate responsibility for correct coding lies with the provider of services. Please contact your local payer for interpretation of the appropriate codes to use for specific procedures. Medtronic makes no guarantee that the use of this information will prevent differences of opinion or disputes with Medicare or other third party payers as to the correct form of billing or the amount that will be paid to providers of service. All products should be used according to their labeling. Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) is copyright 2008 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. No fee schedules, basic units, relative values, or related listings are included in CPT. The AMA assumes no liability for the data contained herein. Applicable FARS/DFARS restrictions apply to government use. CPT is a trademark of the American Medical Association. 2

3 Overview Intra-operative testing and monitoring of nerves is performed during otolaryngology, neurosurgical, orthopedic, and other procedures in which nerves can be at risk. Cranial nerve monitoring, such as facial nerve monitoring, can be used with primary procedures that include posterior fossa surgery for tumor removal, excision of acoustic neuroma, parotidectomy, and middle ear surgery. Laryngeal nerve monitoring in this context is generally related to thyroidectomy, parathyroidectomy and anterior cervical spine procedures. Peripheral nerve monitoring can be used with primary procedures that may include neuroplasty of the hand or foot, neuroplasty of major peripheral nerves of the arm or leg, nerve decompression, and excision of neuromas of hand, foot and major peripheral nerves. Testing associated nerves intra-operatively during surgical procedures can help prevent damage to nerves and other structures and can alert the surgeon of impending complications. Intra-operative nerve monitoring can be used to properly distinguish nerves, such as those embedded in tumor or scar tissue, that can be difficult to locate. It can identify signs that a nerve is becoming damaged from stretching or ischemia by monitoring abnormal discharges. Intra-operative nerve monitoring can also help differentiate between viable and nonviable portions of nerves. Documentation The medical necessity for nerve monitoring for each individual patient should be documented. It is helpful to include this information in the operative report itself. The operative report should clearly document the specific use of nerve monitoring, including the clinical information provided by the monitoring and how it helped with the surgical dissection. As appropriate, the operative report should document that the nerve monitoring was performed throughout the surgical procedure. The start and end times for nerve monitoring should be explicitly documented. Diagnosis Coding The diagnosis codes assigned generally reflect the reason for the primary procedure, rather than the associated nerve monitoring. Some Medicare contractors and commercial payers may have medical policies defining the ICD-9-CM codes for the primary diagnoses for which they feel nerve monitoring is medically necessary. Nerve monitoring performed and billed with other diagnosis codes will be denied. Providers should review Medicare Local Coverage Decisions for nerve monitoring to see if the ICD-9-CM diagnosis codes being used are listed as covered. Providers should also contact commercial payers for their coverage policies. Physician Coding and Reimbursement The following codes for electromyography testing, together with code 95920, may be appropriate to report intra-operative nerve monitoring. Payment shown is the Medicare national average under the RBRVS physician prospective payment system and does not include geographical variations. Because the primary procedure typically takes place in a facility, eg. a hospital, the RVUs and physician payment for nerve monitoring are shown for the facility setting only. 3

4 All of the nerve monitoring codes below are designated as diagnostic tests by CMS so they have both a professional component, ie. interpreting the results, and a technical component, ie. using equipment to perform the test. Modifier 26 is appended to the codes to indicate that facility equipment was used so the physician is being reimbursed for the professional service only. Please see Coverage Rules, Medicare, Monitoring by the Operating Physician section on page 7. Intra-operative Neurophysiology Testing The key element in coding intra-operative nerve monitoring is code This code describes ongoing electrophysiology testing and monitoring performed during surgical procedures. Code is an add-on code and can never be reported by itself. It must always be used together with another code for the specific type of baseline nerve testing, such as EMG testing hour 2.92 $ Instructions in the CPT manual specifically define the additional codes with which can be reported. These include EMG codes 95860, 95861, 95867, 95868, and 95870, as described below. Technically, code may not be reported with other EMG codes. Notes: Code is defined per hour. Time spent interpreting accompanying baseline EMG tests does not count toward the time for 95920; only the additional time spent for nerve monitoring is counted. Portions of an hour are counted only when nerve monitoring lasts over 30 minutes. For example, 3 hours 15 minutes of intra-operative nerve monitoring is reported as three units of 95920, and 3 hours 45 minutes of nerve monitoring is reported as four units of Code is used just once per hour even if multiple studies are performed. Cranial Nerve Monitoring e.g. Facial and Laryngeal Nerve Cranial nerve monitoring uses codes or for EMG of cranial nerve supplied muscles plus for intra-operative neurophysiology testing. Note that laryngeal nerve monitoring uses the same codes as all other cranial nerve monitoring because the recurrent laryngeal nerve is a branch of the vagus nerve, the 10 th cranial nerve. For nerve monitoring, these baseline EMG codes are reported together with code Cranial Nerve Monitoring e.g. Facial and Laryngeal Nerves, Unilateral Procedure Needle electromyography, cranial nerve supplied muscle(s), unilateral 1.11 $ hour 2.92 $

5 Cranial Nerve Monitoring e.g. Facial and Laryngeal Nerves, Bilateral Procedure Needle electromyography, cranial nerve supplied muscle(s), bilateral 1.65 $ hour 2.92 $ Notes: Code is used for EMG of one or more muscles supplied by cranial nerve on one side of the body. Code is used for EMG of one or more muscles supplied by cranial nerves on both sides of the body. Code for unilateral and for bilateral cannot be reported together. Intra-operative Nerve Monitoring with EMG Endotracheal Tube As described above, CPT code plus are appropriate for laryngeal nerve monitoring via an EMG tube. Use of an EMG tube to monitor the vagus and recurrent laryngeal nerve does not alter the use of these codes. Intra-operative Nerve Monitoring during Procedures on the Larynx Needle EMG of the larynx is performed to diagnose laryngeal nerve and muscle disorders, and for intraoperative monitoring during procedures performed on the larynx. Technically, this code cannot be paired with Instructions in the CPT manual list the specific EMG codes with which may be reported. Code is not included in this list. It should be noted that the list of associated codes for was last updated with CPT 2005 and code was new for CPT Needle electromyography, larynx 2.23 $

6 Peripheral Nerve Monitoring For nerve monitoring, each of these baseline EMG codes is reported together with code Nerve Monitoring for One Extremity Needle electromyography; one extremity with or without related paraspinal areas 1.35 $ hour 2.92 $ Nerve Monitoring for Two Extremities Needle electromyography; two extremities with or without related paraspinal areas 2.17 $ hour 2.92 $ Other Peripheral Nerve Monitoring Needle electromyography; limited study of muscles in one extremity or non-limb (axial) muscles (unilateral or bilateral), other than thoracic paraspinal, cranial nerve supplied muscles, or sphincters 0.52 $ hour 2.92 $ Notes: Codes and can be reported only once per patient. Codes and require evaluation of extremity muscles innervated by three nerves, with a minimum of five muscles studied per limb. 1 Code is reported for a limited study of one extremity (one arm or one leg) that does not meet the criteria for to Code is also used for study of a non-limb muscle, such as intercostal or abdominal wall, or for cervical or lumbar paraspinal muscles when the muscles of the corresponding limb are not also being tested. 1 Federal Register, October 31, 1997, p

7 Other Peripheral EMG Technically, these codes cannot be paired with As noted, instructions in the CPT manual list the specific EMG codes with which may be reported. The codes below are not included on the list Needle electromyography; three extremities with or without related paraspinal areas 2.60 $ Needle electromyography; four extremities with or without related paraspinal areas 2.78 $ Needle electromyography using single fiber electrode, with quantitative measurement of jitter, blocking and/or fiber density, any/all sites of each muscle studied 3.90 $ Notes: Codes and can be reported only once per patient. Codes and require evaluation of extremity muscles innervated by three nerves, with a minimum of five muscles studied per limb. 2 Additional Notes Because the EMG codes and are designated as diagnostic tests by CMS, they are subject to physician supervision. CMS publishes a code-by-code listing which specifies the exact level of physician supervision that must be provided for each test. However, the levels are not displayed above because supervision requirements do not apply to diagnostic tests furnished in hospitals. 3 In addition to general coverage issues (see below), NCCI edits bundle EMG codes and and nerve monitoring code with a variety of primary skull base, cranial and other ENT procedures, including the parathyroidectomy or exploration procedures representing by 60500, and NCCI edits also bundle many of the other EMG codes and with a variety of peripheral nerve surgical procedures. Physicians should review current NCCI edits when reporting these codes. 4 2 Federal Register, October 31, 1997, p Medicare Benefit Policy Manual, Chapter 15, section

8 Coverage Rules Medicare Monitoring by the Operating Physician The operating surgeon should not report any of the nerve monitoring codes separately. Medicare does not pay separately for nerve monitoring when performed by the same surgeon who performed the primary procedure. Specifically, many Medicare coverage policies for CPT code state 5 : This test must be requested by the operating surgeon and the monitoring must be performed by a physician, other than: - the operating surgeon; - the technical/surgical assistant; or - the anesthesiologist rendering the anesthesia Beyond this, NCCI policy states 6 : Intraoperative neurophysiology testing (CPT code 95920) should not be reported by the physician performing an operative procedure since it is included in the global package. However, when performed by a different physician during the procedure, it is separately reportable by the second physician. The physician performing an operative procedure should not bill other neurophysiology testing codes for intraoperative neurophysiology testing(e.g., 92585, 95822, 95860, 95861, 95867, 95868, 95870, 95900, 95904, ) since they are also included in the global package. Consultants have also advised that the EMG codes and were created and assigned RVUs on the basis of being performed by a physician other than the operating surgeon. Therefore, our best understanding of this issue is that the operating surgeon should not report the EMG codes and Additional information on this topic is available by contacting the local Medicare contractor, the AMA, and the AAO-HNSF. Monitoring by Another Physician As noted, the National Correct Coding Policy on intra-operative neurophysiology testing code states that when performed by a different physician during the procedure, it is separately reportable by the second physician. Therefore, a second physician such as a neurologist or neurophysiologist who performs these services during a procedure may report codes 95865, 95867, and 95920, for them and be reimbursed for them. Special rules apply when the second physician is in a group practice with the operating surgeon. Physicians in the same group practice who are in the same specialty must bill and be paid as though they were a single physician. However, physicians in the same group practice who are in different specialties may bill and be paid separately. 7 Therefore, a second physician in the same group but a different specialty from the operating surgeon may bill separately for intra-operative monitoring, but a second physician in the same group and same specialty may not. 5 Example, Highmark Medicare Services, Local Coverage Determination L27469, Intraoperative Neurophysiologic Testing, revision date 12/12/ Source: National Correct Coding Policy Manual, version 14.3, Chapter 11, section L, no.5 7 Medicare Claims Processing Manual, Chapter 12, section

9 Physician Billing for Monitoring by Others Physicians may not bill for services performed by others in a facility, even if they are supervised by the physician. This means that a physician cannot bill for monitoring performed by an OR technician, nurse, physical therapist or any other professional employed by the hospital, regardless of the degree of physician supervision. Moreover, a physician cannot bill for monitoring performed by others in a facility even if they are employees of the physician, such as a Physician Assistant or Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner. The services of these professionals may not be billed under the physician s ID number. This is because there is no incident to billing in the facility setting for any service. 8 If the physician employs the professional who performs the monitoring or if the physician provides the equipment used, the physician may however be able to look to the hospital for additional reimbursement under a separate arrangement. Separate Billing by Non-Physicians An independent Physician Assistant, neurophysiologist, audiologist, nurse practitioner or other electrophysiology-certified provider working within the scope of his or her license who personally performs nerve monitoring can bill under his or her own Medicare provider number. 9 Remote Monitoring Typically, the monitoring physician is present in the operating room where the procedure is being performed. However, this is not always required. Some Medicare contractors allow remote monitoring, for example by digital transmission or video, as long as certain conditions are met. 10 Generally, the physician performing the service remotely must be monitoring in real-time and must be solely dedicated to performing this service. The physician monitoring remotely must also have the capacity for continuous or immediate contact with the operating surgeon. Alternately, a trained technician must be in continuous attendance in the operating room with the capacity for real-time communication with the remotely monitoring physician. Some contractors allow simultaneous monitoring of more than one patient. However, only the time devoted to each individual patient is counted. The time may be cumulative though it need not be continuous. Physicians should contact Medicare contractors and commercial payers for specific guidance on remote monitoring policies and requirements. Commercial Payers Many commercial payers follow Medicare policies, guidelines and edits. However, some commercial payers may have different interpretations and practices. Physicians should contact local payers to verify coverage, appropriate coding, and payment. 8 Medicare Benefit Policy Manual, Chapter 15, section 60.1.B 9 Medicare Benefit Policy Manual, Chapter 15, section 60.2 and section 80; see also sections 190, 200, and Examples: Trailblazer Health Enterprises, Local Coverage Determination L26800, Intraoperative Neurophysiologic Monitoring, revision date 3/1/2008; Cigna Government Services, Local Coverage Determination L24159, Intraoperative Neurophysiologic Testing, revision date 2/4/2007; WPSIC, Local Coverage Determination L10944, Intraoperative Neurophysiologic Testing, revision date 8/1/2005 9

10 Facility Coding and Reimbursement For facilities, coding and reimbursement depend on the setting, ie. inpatient or outpatient, and the type of facility, ie. hospital or Ambulatory Surgery Center. Also note that facilities do not append TC to the CPT codes. It is understood that the facility is billing for the technical component. Hospital Outpatient Hospitals use CPT codes to report outpatient services. Payment shown is the Medicare national average under the APC hospital outpatient prospective payment system and does not include geographical variations. The Status Indicator shows how each code is handled for payment purposes. 11 Cranial and Peripheral Nerve Monitoring Used With CPT Description APC Notes: Needle electromyography; one extremity with or without related paraspinal areas Needle electromyography; two extremities with or without related paraspinal areas Needle electromyography, cranial nerve supplied muscle(s), unilateral Needle electromyography, cranial nerve supplied muscle(s), bilateral Needle electromyography; limited study of muscles in one extremity or non-limb (axial) muscles (unilateral or bilateral), other than thoracic paraspinal, cranial nerve supplied muscles, or sphincters APC Weight Status Indicator CY2010 Payment 0215 Level I Nerve and Muscle Tests S $41.35 hour N/A N/A N N/A Coding guidelines given for physicians apply to hospital outpatient services as well. As with physician, NCCI edits also apply to hospital outpatient coding and billing. Hospitals should review current NCCI edits when reporting these codes. The EMG codes are paid separately in addition to the payment for the primary surgical procedure. Status Indicator S indicates that payment is always made at 100% of the rate and is not reduced even when other separately payable services are also billed. The intra-operative nerve monitoring code 95920, however, is not paid separately. Status Indicator N indicates that payment for intra-operative nerve monitoring is packaged and included with payment for the primary procedure, so no separate payment is made. Many commercial payers use Medicare s APC methodology or a similar type of fee schedule to reimburse hospitals for outpatient services. However, some payers may have different practices or policies. Hospitals should contact local payers regarding separate payment for code Federal Register, November 18, 2008, p

11 Other EMG (Not Used with 95920) APC Status CY2010 CPT Description APC Weight Indicator Payment Needle electromyography; three extremities with or without related paraspinal areas Needle electromyography; four extremities with or without related paraspinal areas Needle electromyography, larynx Needle electromyography using single fiber electrode, with quantitative measurement of jitter, blocking and/or fiber density, any/all sites of each muscle studied Hospital Inpatient Hospitals assign ICD-9-CM procedure codes for inpatient services. The ICD-9-CM codes then form the basis for the DRG system that Medicare uses to reimburse hospitals for inpatient stays. ICD-9-CM provides a specific code for intra-operative nerve monitoring: intra-operative neurophysiologic monitoring For Medicare, a single DRG is assigned for the entire hospital stay and the associated payment is designed to encompass all services rendered during the stay. So payment for nerve monitoring is included as part of the overall surgical DRG payment. Some commercial payers also use DRGs to reimburse hospital inpatient services, or they may use a per diem or per case method. Under all of these methodologies, separate payment is not made for intraoperative nerve monitoring. Ambulatory Surgery Center Medicare s list of ASC Covered Surgical Procedures for CY 2010 includes only primary surgical procedures. The payment to the ASC for the primary surgical procedure includes the nerve monitoring services. Although selected ancillary services are separately payable when they are specially designated as integral to covered surgical procedures, nerve monitoring services have not been given this designation and are not separately payable to the facility. Payment by commercial payers may vary depending on the ASC s contract and the patient s benefits. ASCs should contact local payers to verify coverage, coding, and payment. 11

12 Frequently Asked Questions 1. Who can bill for intra-operative nerve monitoring? Under Medicare rules, the following providers can bill if they have a separate provider number from the operating surgeon: - A physician who is not involved in the surgical procedure. - A technician trained and certified in electrophysiologic monitoring. - An audiologist trained and certified in electrophysiologic monitoring. - A physical therapist trained and certified in electrophysiologic monitoring. - A neurophysiologist, neurologist or physiatrist. For other payers, physicians should contact their provider relations representative. 2. If the operating surgeon s partner performs the nerve monitoring, can this be billed separately? In general, the operating surgeon s partner cannot bill for nerve monitoring separately. From the payer perspective, a physician and the physician s partners are the same person. Since the operating surgeon cannot bill nerve monitoring separately, a partner cannot either. One common exception is when the operating surgeon and the partner are in different specialties, in which case some payers allow them to bill separately. (Medicare Claims Processing Manual, Chapter 12, 30.65) 3. Can an anesthesiologist bill for EMG tube placement? No. Under Medicare rules, an anesthesiologists cannot separately code or bill the use of a scope or laryngoscope in placing an endotracheal tube. This is considered integral to the anesthesia service. (Source: NCCI Policy Manual, version 14.3, Chapter 2, section B, no. 4) 4. Can the hospital outpatient surgery department bill for intra-operative nerve monitoring? Under Medicare APCs, the hospital can bill for the technical component of the EMG codes such as CPT or CPT and receive separate payment. However, Medicare considers the intraoperative nerve monitoring code a packaged service. Payment for is included in the payment for the primary procedure, so no separate payment is made for code Hospital should contact commercial payers for separate payment information for Can an ASC bill for intra-operative nerve monitoring? No, the nerve monitoring services codes are not listed as approved codes for ASCs and are not separately payable to the facility. The payment to the ASC for the primary surgical procedure includes the nerve monitoring services. Payment by commercial payers may vary depending on the ASC s contract and the patient s benefits. ASCs should contact local payers to verify coverage, coding, and payment. 6. Can a company that provides intra-operative nerve monitoring get reimbursed for the monitoring in a hospital or ASC? A company that provides intra-operative nerve monitoring services that performs and bills for the nerve monitoring under its own Medicare provider number may be reimbursed. The payment packaging and edit bundling rules do not apply because the provider is billing completely independently of the physician or facility. 7. What monitoring codes are used during thyroid surgery? 12

13 CPT code for bilateral cranial nerve monitoring is used because the EMG tube monitors the nerve bilaterally. The nerve being monitored is a branch of a cranial nerve. 8. When is code used? The AMA has published that needle EMG of the larynx is performed for intra-operative monitoring during procedures performed on the larynx. 9. Why isn t cross-referenced as one of the EMG codes with which code can be reported? The list of associated codes for was last updated with CPT Code was new in CPT We have alerted the AMA to the discrepancy. 10. How many units can be billed for code 95920? Code is defined as per hour. It is used just once per hour even if multiple EMGs are performed. For example, if a patient was monitored for three hours, the provider would bill 3 units for Portions of an hour are counted only when nerve monitoring lasts over 30 minutes. For example, 3 hours 15 minutes of intra-operative nerve monitoring is reported as 3 units of 95920, and 3 hours 45 minutes of intra-operative nerve monitoring is reported as 4 units of How many units can be billed for CPT or 95868? The cranial nerve monitoring codes and are defined as cranial nerve supplied muscle(s) so only one code is used regardless of how many muscles are being tested. 13

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