2019 novel coronavirus

Feb. 3, 2020 / By Audrey Howard, RHIA

This blog has been updated with new information. Read Audrey’s updated blog here.

I know we have all been following the news reports about the outbreak of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The World Health Organization has declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern with over 17,000 confirmed cases as of February 3, 2020 (this number has risen to 71,902 confirmed cases as of February 17).

Also as of February 3, 2020, there have been 11 confirmed cases in the U.S., with hundreds under investigation across many states (there have been 29 confirmed cases as of February 17). Prior to January 29, all the cases reported in the United States were associated with travel from China. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on January 30 that the virus spread between two people in the United States who share a household.

I would like to take this opportunity to review the ICD-10-CM codes we currently have available to code instances of disease or exposure due to coronavirus.

The codes for classifying coronavirus (not associated with SARS) include:

  • Pneumonia due to coronavirus:  J12.89 (Other viral pneumonia) and B97.29 (Other coronavirus as the cause of diseases classified elsewhere)
  • Sepsis due to coronavirus:  A41.89 (Other specified sepsis) and B97.29
  • Other infection caused by coronavirus:  B34.2 (Coronavirus infection, unspecified)
  • Contact with and (suspected) exposure to other viral communicable diseases: Z20.828 (there is currently no Z code specific to coronavirus)

Please note that 2019-nCoV is a different coronavirus than those associated with MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). If there is evidence that a patient has SARS-associated coronavirus and the documentation is unclear, vague, or conflicting, then a query is appropriate to make certain the virus is classified appropriately. Codes identifying SARS-associated coronavirus include:

  • Pneumonia due to SARS-associated coronavirus: J12.81 (Pneumonia due to SARS-associated coronavirus)
  • Sepsis due to SARS-associated coronavirus: A41.89 and B97.21 (SARS-associated coronavirus as the cause of diseases classified elsewhere)

I will be monitoring the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and/or the American Hospital Association (AHA)/Coding Clinic for any official coding advice relative to this coronavirus that may be issued and will post updates accordingly.

Audrey Howard, RHIA, is a senior outsource services consultant with 3M Health Information Systems.