Cracking the Code
Coding for Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis is the most common type of liver disease. Most of the patients who have cirrhosis develop esophageal varices due to scarring throughout the liver. Since the esophageal varices are due to the scarring (which is caused by cirrhosis), cirrhosis is sequenced as the primary diagnosis followed by varices as a secondary diagnosis. Also, coders should be sure to follow the instructional note under I85.11 that states to “code first underlying disease”.
When reviewing cases with esophageal varices, please be sure to look for documentation specifying the underlying cause. If the provider does NOT document the etiology of the varices, please query for clarification.