Q&A: Dealing with denials for ICD-9-CM code 584.9 due to lab values
QUESTION: Recently, reviewers have denied diagnostic code 584.9 (acute renal failure [ARF]) based on lab values. The diagnosis is well documented and treated by the attending physician, but reviewers are stating the lab values do not support the diagnosis of ARF.
The lab values (creatinine/blood urea nitrogen) went from normal to abnormal, and we found no definitive standards for lab parameters to meet the definition of ARF. Following coding guidelines for reporting secondary diagnoses, the ARF was clinically evaluated, the patient received therapeutic and diagnostic procedures, and there was an extended length of stay/increased nursing care. As coders, we feel it is inappropriate to question the physician’s clinical judgment, and reporting the ARF as a secondary diagnosis is correct. Based on the documentation in the record, is it appropriate to code the ARF?
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