My Favorite Holiday CPT Codes


As I prepare for my Thanksgiving meal, I’m struck by the number of CPT codes that physicians may have to use this season.

Several years ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services were smart enough to create 68,000 ways for physicians to bill for services. Known as the ICD 10 and CPT codes, these diagnosis and procedure codes cover nearly every circumstance that could occur to their patients this holiday season.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is the time of year when I am grateful I get to see family members who I have not seen for a whole year, but am also simultaneously reminded how grateful I am that this occurs only once a year. I am also grateful for Thanksgiving football, as it provides a great distraction to keep people from talking to each other.

As I prepare for my Thanksgiving meal, I’m struck by the number of CPT codes that physicians may have to use this season. Here’s hoping that while preparing Thanksgiving dinner, you won’t have to use code W61.42 for your patients, which means they were “struck by a turkey,” or code X08.8, which means they had been “exposed to other specified smoke fire and flames.” Advise patients to be careful starting that Yule log. Here’s also hoping your patients will avoid injury from the electric knife, which is covered under W29.0xxa “contact with powered kitchen appliance.”

Undoubtedly as your patients break bread with their families, the physicians treating them may have to employ code Z63.1, which is for “problems in relationships with in-laws,” code R46.1, which addresses “relatives with bizarre personal appearances” or code R46.0, which is for “very low level of personal hygiene” that could, in turn, lead to using code L75.0 or “bromhidrosis.”

On Black Friday when the stores open for holiday sales, don’t worry, because Medicare has your patients covered with code Y92.59, which is for patients “injured while in a shopping mall.” Or if your patients are unlucky enough to be in a Walmart during a super sale, use code W52.XXXA, which covers patients who are “stepped on by crowd or human stampede, initial encounter.” If they were foolish enough to go back, then use code W52.XXXB “crushed, pushed or stepped on by crowd or human stampede, subsequent encounter.” There is probably a code for being stupid, but I haven’t found it yet.

Other holiday activities can be fraught with danger. Are you patients planning on doing a festive hayride on a farm this season? They are in danger of being:

  • W61.43 “Pecked by a turkey.”
  • W55.21” Bitten by a cow”
  • W56.52 “Struck by a fish.”
  • W61.12XA “Struck by a macaw.”
  • V80.2 “Injured while an occupant of a nonfarm vehicle, or animal driven vehicle that collides with a pedestrian or animal.”
  • W55.41X: “Bitten by pig, initial encounter.”

If you think your patients are going to Florida this season, it may be advisable for them to avoid Sea World, as you may have to employ W58.01, for those patients who were “bitten by an alligator” or T63.631A, for those patients suffering the “toxic effect of contact with sea anemone, accidental (unintentional).”

If your patients decide to stay home this season, counsel them to be careful setting up the Christmas lights lest you need to use code W13.2XXA, “fall from, out of or through roof, initial encounter,” or worse yet, code T75.4XXA “electrocution, initial encounter.”

Of course, if you and your patients, like Ralphie, are dreaming of your Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas, you should also counsel them about safe airgun usage. If they don’t take your advice, there’s always W34.110 “accidental malfunction of an airgun.” Have fun this holiday season, and don’t shoot your eye out, kid!

The views here are my own and not necessarily shared by the publisher.

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