Practice Economics

'Systems,' Not 'Points,' Is Correct Terminology for ROS Statements


The “Billing and Coding Bandwagon” article in the May 2011 issue of The Hospitalist (p. 26) recently was brought to my attention and I have some concerns that the following statement gives a false impression of acceptable documentation: “When I first started working, I couldn’t believe that I could get audited and fined just because I didn’t add ‘10-point’ or ‘12-point’ to my note of ‘review of systems: negative,’” says hospitalist Amaka Nweke, MD, assistant director with Hospitalists Management Group (HMG) at Kenosha Medical Center in Kenosha, Wis. “I had a lot of frustration, because I had to repackage and re-present my notes in a manner that makes sense to Medicare but makes no sense to physicians.”

In fact, that would still not be considered acceptable documentation for services that require a complete review of systems (99222, 99223, 99219, 99220, 99235, and 99236). The documentation guidelines clearly state: “A complete ROS [review of systems] inquires about the system(s) directly related to the problem(s) identified in the HPI plus all additional body systems.” At least 10 organ systems must be reviewed. Those systems with positive or pertinent negative responses must be individually documented. For the remaining systems, a notation indicating all other systems are negative is permissible. In the absence of such a notation, at least 10 systems must be individually documented.

What Medicare is saying is the provider must have inquired about all 14 systems, not just 10 or 12. The term “point” means nothing in an ROS statement. “Systems” is the correct terminology, not “points.”

I am afraid the article is misleading and could be providing inappropriate documentation advice to hospitalists dealing with CMS and AMA guidelines.

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