April is observed as “Parkinson’s Awareness Month”. The observance is an opportunity to increase awareness about Parkinson’s disease – a progressive neurodegenerative disorder – and its symptoms, as well as to support victims. This long-term disorder where the central nervous system degenerates and affects the motor system leads to progressive deterioration of motor function due to loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Although this neurological condition can’t be fully cured, medications can dramatically reduce or improve the severity of symptoms. In most cases, early symptoms may be mild and unnoticed, which might lead to advanced stages. In advanced cases, surgery may be recommended to regulate certain regions of the brain and improve the symptoms. Billing and coding for Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be a challenging process. Relying on the services of a reputable medical billing and coding company can help neurologists with precise documentation of this neurodegenerative disorder.

The birth month and date of James Parkinson, a London physician who published “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy” in 1817 is now marked as Parkinson’s disease Awareness Month. World Parkinson’s Day is on April 11. James Parkinson was the man who first identified Parkinson’s disease nearly 200 years ago and the first physician to describe the disease. The red tulip is considered as the symbol of Parkinson’s disease awareness and a purple ribbon is the chosen color to wear in support of people with the disease.

Sponsored by the Parkinson’s Foundation, this year, the campaign wants everyone to take actions to impact the future of Parkinson’s disease (PD) – by learning how to navigate our own future with Parkinson’s or helping to create a world without PD. Every year in the U.S., 60,000 people are diagnosed with this disease.

The month-long campaign is a great time to highlight the symptoms and risk factors associated with this condition and diagnose it during the early stages or even prevent it if possible. It promotes a better understanding about this neurological disorder and how it can affect a person. 

Symptoms of PD

Generally, symptoms of PD begin on one side of the body and usually remain worse on that side, even after symptoms begin to affect both sides. This condition develops gradually and can also cause stiffness or slowing of movement. Other common signs and symptoms include – slowed movement (bradykinesia), rigid muscles, speech changes, impaired posture and balance, loss of automatic movements and writing changes.

Diagnosis and Treatment of PD

There are no specific tests that exist to diagnose PD. Initial diagnosis of the condition may begin with a detailed evaluation of the medical history, review of signs and symptoms and a neurological and physical examination. Neurologists may request a specific single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) scan called a dopamine transporter scan (DaTscan). Imaging tests like – MRI, ultrasound of the brain, and PET scans may also be used to help rule out other disorders. In addition, physicians may also order lab tests, such as blood tests, to rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms. 

Though there is no cure for PD, incorporating certain treatment methods such as medications and making several positive lifestyle changes can reduce the severity of the disease. Medications will help people manage problems with walking, movement and tremor, as these medications increase or substitute for dopamine, a specific signaling chemical (neurotransmitter) in the brain.

Documenting PD

Neurologists who diagnose and administer Parkinson treatment procedures must correctly document the same using the right medical codes. Professional coders from experienced medical coding companies ensure that the correct medical codes are reported on the medical claims. ICD-10 diagnosis codes for PD include: 

  • G20: Parkinson’s disease
  • G21: Secondary parkinsonism
    • G21.0: Malignant neuroleptic syndrome
    • G21.1: Other drug-induced secondary parkinsonism
      • G21.11: Neuroleptic induced parkinsonism
      • G21.19: Other drug induced secondary parkinsonism
    • G21.2: Secondary parkinsonism due to other external agents
    • G21.3: Postencephalitic parkinsonism
    • G21.4: Vascular parkinsonism
    • G21.8: Other secondary parkinsonism
    • G21.9: Secondary parkinsonism, unspecified

PD has several associated complications, such as Dementia and Dysphagia that could have a significant impact on short- and long-term care. 

ICD-10 codes for a diagnosis of Dementia and Dysphagia include: 

Dementia

  • F02:Dementia in other diseases classified elsewhere
    • F02.8:Dementia in other diseases classified elsewhere
      • F02.80 …… without behavioral disturbance
      • F02.81 …… with behavioral disturbance
  • F03: Unspecified dementia
    • F03.90 …… without behavioral disturbance
    • F03.91 …… with behavioral disturbance
    • F03.9: Unspecified dementia

Dysphagia 

  • R13.1 Dysphagia
    • R13.10…… unspecified
    • R13.11…… oral phase
    • R13.12…… oropharyngeal phase
    • R13.13…… pharyngeal phase
    • R13.14…… pharyngoesophageal phase
    • R13.19 Other dysphagia

According to ICD-10 monitor, “it makes it all the more essential that both coding and clinical documentation integrity professionals continue to nurture and build knowledge of the disease processes as a core competency area. Capturing all these associated complications in the documentation and coding is critical to share the patient’s story and paint the picture of this systemic disease severity”.

Make sure you or your loved one has an expert care team to help live better with Parkinson’s, because getting the right care at the right time can make a huge difference. 

Overall, we can’t change the Future of PD alone, but by putting our efforts together, we all can make a difference!