Question: Will you please refresh us on when it is appropriate to use emergency code 99140?
Answer: An emergency is defined by the ASA as “existing when delay in treatment of the patient would lead to a significant increase in the threat to life or body part.”
An emergency is not defined by where it happens or when it occurs, but whether it meets the above definition. Do not mark cases as “emergencies” just because they occur on the weekend, the patient comes through the ER, or the case is unscheduled. These events on their own do not qualify as emergencies.
Also, an anesthesiologist might consider anyone with a full stomach to be an “emergency.” While medically this does increase the risk, insurance companies do not recognize this as an emergency status.
Your diagnosis code should substantiate that the procedure is saving life or limb, but if it doesn’t, make sure to document why the case was an emergency. And, the emergency status MUST be documented on the anesthesia record or history and physical in order to bill.