10/23/2018 – Emergency code 99140

Question: 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 operation is arbitrarily defined as a surgical procedure which, in the surgeon’s opinion, should be performed without delay.

An emergency is not determined by where it happens or when it occurs. Do not mark cases as an emergency just because they occur on the weekend, or the patient comes through the ER, or the case is not planned. These events on their own do not qualify as emergencies.

Your diagnosis code should show that the procedure is saving life or limb, but if it doesn’t, make sure to document why the case was an emergency.


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