I hear all the time from coders, “oh I have that one memorized.” Or they say, “I hate ICD-10 because I had so many ICD-9 committed to memory.”
Coding isn’t about memorization of individual codes. It’s all about guidelines. Focus your memorization on the guidance and you can apply the correct codes to any given scenario.
Let’s take HTN for example. Most have found it easy to memorize the ICD-10-CM Hypertension code I10. But what they fail to realize is I10 isn’t always going to be your code for documented hypertension.
Know your guidelines such as when both HTN and CKD are documented, you use the combination code and linkage is assumed between these conditions. This was true of ICD-9 and still true in ICD-10-CM coding guidelines.
Over the years, I have reviewed an endless number of candidates’ pre-hire coding tests, and I can tell you with much dismay that it was often coded incorrectly, even by those with years of experience. You took a pre-hire test but you didn’t use your book and the guidelines? I am often left to wonder how much could this person possibly know about coding if they don’t even bother to look in the front of the book. Sometimes I even received nasty emails telling me how bad the test was and we were “wrong”. A pre-hire test is a test of your knowledge. Don’t sell yourself short by not using all your resources. After all, that is what you are trying to do, “sell yourself” so to speak and your skills. Lashing out at someone after not passing a test isn’t going to get your foot in the door.
Again, I circle back to know your guidelines and resources! Focusing on code memorization misses the entire point. A coder is expected to possess the knowledge of how and why to apply a code in a given scenario, not on how well they can memorize a list. And there is that not so little resource known as Coding Clinic©. Not knowing it’s published guidance can and will hurt you, especially if you are working or seeking work in the inpatient/facility setting. Maybe you think the cost is too great, but remember, you are investing in your future. The consequences of ignorance can be great; it is ultimately the coders responsibility to keep current with all guidance. Knowing and using all the tools of your chosen trade is the best investment you can make in yourself, now and for the future.
Ronni Knight, CCS, CPC, CRC, AHIMA Approved ICD-10 CM/PCS Trainer
Director of Operations
Compliant Coding Systems