Coding Encounters Related to COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak

Introduction

The purpose of this guideline (Effective: February 20, 2020) is to provide coding guidance for health care encounters and deaths related to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) previously named 2019-nCoV.

The COVID-19 caused an outbreak of respiratory illness, and was first identified in 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Since then, thousands of cases have been confirmed in China, and COVID-19 has also spread internationally, including in the United States. Investigations are ongoing. The most recent situation updates are available from the CDC web page, About 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Official CDC Website: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

The confirmed COVID-19 infections can cause a range of illness, from little to no symptoms, to those affected being severely ill and even dying. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear from 2 to 14 days after exposure, based on the incubation period for other coronaviruses, such as the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) viruses.

This guidance is intended to be used in conjunction with the current ICD-10-CM classification and the ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting (effective October 1, 2019) and will be updated to reflect new clinical information as it becomes available.

The ICD-10-CM codes provided in this document are intended to provide information on the coding of encounters related to coronavirus. Other codes for conditions unrelated to coronavirus may be required to fully code these scenarios in accordance with the ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting. A hyphen is used at the end of a code to indicate that additional characters are required.

General Guidance

Pneumonia

For a pneumonia case confirmed as due to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), assign codes J12.89, Other viral pneumonia, and B97.29, Other coronavirus as the cause of diseases classified elsewhere.

Acute Bronchitis

For a patient with acute bronchitis confirmed as due to COVID-19, assign codes J20.8, Acute bronchitis due to other specified organisms, and B97.29, Other coronavirus as the cause of diseases classified elsewhere. Bronchitis not otherwise specified (NOS) due to the COVID-19 should be coded using code J40, Bronchitis, not specified as acute or chronic; along with code B97.29, Other coronavirus as the cause of diseases classified elsewhere.

Lower Respiratory Infection

If the COVID-19 is documented as being associated with a lower respiratory infection, not otherwise specified (NOS), or an acute respiratory infection, NOS, this should be assigned with code J22, Unspecified acute lower respiratory infection, with code B97.29, Other coronavirus as the cause ofdiseases classified elsewhere. If the COVID-19 is documented as being associated with a respiratory infection, NOS, it would be appropriate to assign code J98.8, Other specified respiratory disorders, with code B97.29, Other coronavirus as the cause of diseases classified elsewhere.

ARDS

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) may develop in with the COVID-19, according to the Interim Clinical Guidance for Management of Patients with Confirmed 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection.

Cases with ARDS due to COVID-19 should be assigned the codes J80, Acute respiratory distress syndrome, and B97.29, Other coronavirus as the cause of diseases classified elsewhere.

Exposure to COVID-19

For cases where there is a concern about a possible exposure to COVID-19, but this is ruled out after evaluation, it would be appropriate to assign the code Z03.818, Encounter for observation for suspected exposure to other biological agents ruled out.

For cases where there is an actual exposure to someone who is confirmed to have COVID-19, it would be appropriate to assign the code Z20.828, Contact with and (suspected) exposure to other viral communicable diseases.

Signs and symptoms

For patients presenting with any signs/symptoms (such as fever, etc.) and where a definitive diagnosis has not been established, assign the appropriate code(s) for each of the presenting signs and symptoms such as:

  • U07.1 2019-nCoVacute respiratory disease *NEW*
  • R05 Cough
  • R06.02 Shortness of breath
  • R50.9 Fever, unspecified

Note: Diagnosis code B34.2, Coronavirus infection, unspecified, would in generally not be appropriate for the COVID-19, because the cases have universally been respiratory in nature, so the site would not be "unspecified".

If the provider documents "suspected", "possible" or "probable" COVID-19, do not assign code B97.29. Assign a code(s) explaining the reason for encounter (such as fever, or Z20.828).