March is “National Kidney Month (NKM)” – a month-long observance aimed to generate awareness about chronic kidney disease (CKD) – a silent killer that often goes undetected until it becomes life-threatening. Supported by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), this monthly campaign is the perfect platform to spread information about the risk factors for kidney disease and to remind people about the need to get tested for the disease on time. Regarded as the ninth leading cause of death among Americans, chronic kidney disease, (also called chronic kidney failure), refers to the gradual loss of kidney function. The condition may not become apparent until your kidney function is significantly impaired. Timely and effective treatment for CKD may help in reducing the intensity of symptoms thereby slowing the progression of kidney damage to a great extent. Nephrologists performing different treatment modalities should have complete knowledge about the latest guidelines or practices for medical billing and coding. For correct clinical documentation of this condition, physicians can rely on medical billing outsourcing services.

According to reports from the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), about 30 million adults in the United States suffer from chronic kidney disease. It is estimated that in 1 in 3 Americans are at high risk for kidney disease. About 96% of people with kidney damage or early stage CKD do not know that they have it. Potential risk factors for this condition include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, abnormal kidney structure, heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease, obesity, being above the age of 60, and family history.

Chronic kidney disease develops when the kidneys lose their ability to remove/filter wastes and maintain fluid and chemical balances in the body. By helping the body excrete waste and excess fluid through the urine, the kidneys help optimize the composition of blood, keep bones strong, and help the body make red blood cells. If left untreated, this condition can lead to an advanced stage wherein dangerous levels of fluids, electrolytes and wastes can build up in the body.

National Kidney Month (NKM) highlights the role of kidneys in improving our overall health and what steps can be taken to reduce the frequency and intensity of kidney disease. World Kidney Day 2019 was held on March 14 to raise awareness about the importance of taking care of the kidneys. The theme for this year’s one-day campaign is – “Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere”.

Chronic kidney disease usually does not display early symptoms. Signs and symptoms of CKD develop over time if kidney damage progresses slowly. Common signs and symptoms include nausea, loss of appetite, swollen ankles, feet or hands, tiredness, blood in the urine, high blood pressure and sleep problems. Initial diagnosis of this condition begins with a detailed physical examination. The physician will check for signs of problems with the patient’s heart or blood vessels and conduct a detailed exam. Diagnostic tests including blood tests, urine tests, testing a sample of kidney tissue and imaging tests will be performed to determine the specific stage of the kidney disease.

The diagnosis and screening tests performed by nephrologists must be carefully documented using the right medical codes. Medical billing and coding services offered by established companies can help physicians use the correct codes for their medical billing purposes. ICD-10 codes used for CKD include –

  • N18 Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
    • N18.1 Chronic kidney disease, stage 1
    • N18.2 Chronic kidney disease, stage 2 (mild)
    • N18.3 Chronic kidney disease, stage 3 (moderate)
    • N18.4 Chronic kidney disease, stage 4 (severe)
    • N18.5 Chronic kidney disease, stage 5
    • N18.6 End stage renal disease
    • N18.9 Chronic kidney disease, unspecified
  • N19 Unspecified kidney failure

Kidney Month is recognized as the perfect opportunity to get people interested in the health of their kidneys. As part of the campaign in March, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) hosts a wide range of programs throughout the country to generate awareness about chronic kidney disease and its associated risk factors. These programs include free kidney health screenings (for those at high risk of CKD such as people with diabetes, high blood pressure or family history of kidney failure), online quiz programs and sharing messages with family, friends, and community via social media platforms (about the importance of getting tested for kidney disease). The listing of locations and other information can be found on the NKF website.

Participate in National Kidney Month celebration in March. Make serious efforts to generate widespread awareness about chronic kidney disease (CKD) and the need for early diagnosis and treatment.