May is observed as Hepatitis Awareness Month in the United States. First established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2001, this campaign in the month of May aims to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and encourage priority populations to get tested for the most common types of viral hepatitis. It is estimated that up to 5 million people in the US are affected by viral hepatitis. Hepatitis refers to an inflammation of the liver cells which is usually the result of a viral infection or liver damage caused by heavy alcohol use, toxins, use of certain medications and occurrence of certain medical conditions. There are different types of hepatitis viruses and the three most common types are hepatitis A, B and C. All three types can be acute, (lasting for 6 months or less) and infections with any of these three can be deadly. These hepatitis viruses have different characteristics, but the symptoms tend to be similar. Viral hepatitis is diagnosed by the patient’s symptoms, physical exam and blood tests. In addition, imaging studies like sonogram or CAT scan and a liver biopsy may be used. Gastroenterologists, hepatologists and infectious disease specialists treating this condition may partner with experienced medical billing and coding companies to report hepatitis correctly with the latest ICD-10 diagnostic codes.

It is estimated that about 300 million people worldwide are living with viral hepatitis unaware. Hepatitis B accounts for about 80% of liver cancer cases and is the third most common cause of death from cancer in males. The hepatitis virus repeatedly attacks the liver causing damage which can result in liver cancer. Most people don’t know that they have acute hepatitis until they get sick. Typically, signs and symptoms generally appear quickly and include – fatigue, loss of appetite, dark urine, abdominal pain, flu-like symptoms, unexplained weight loss and yellow skin and eyes.

The 2019 monthly campaign aims to improve the quality of life of those people affected by viral hepatitis through education, patient advocacy and medical research. It encourages common people to better understand the need for timely diagnosis, treatment and prevention of this condition. Diagnosis of this inflammatory condition starts with a physical examination and detailed evaluation of previous medical history to determine the potential risk factors for any infectious or non-infectious hepatitis. Imaging tests such as ultrasound, liver biopsy, liver function test and blood tests will also be performed as part of the diagnosis. Treatment modality to be administered may mainly depend on the type and severity of infections – whether it is acute or chronic. Generally, Hepatitis A infections do not require any treatment and bed rest may be recommended. On the other hand, for chronic forms of infections like hepatitis B and C – antiviral medications will be recommended. Liver transplantation will be recommended as a treatment option for those people who develop cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or liver disease as a result of chronic hepatitis C.

Gastroenterologists, hepatologists and other specialists treating viral hepatitis patients will be reimbursed for their services. The screening tests and other procedures conducted as part of the treatment procedures must be correctly documented using the right medical codes. Using the services of professional medical billing companies can ensure this.

ICD-10 diagnostic codes used for Viral Hepatitis are as follows –

B15 – Acute hepatitis A

  • B15.0 – Hepatitis A with hepatic coma
  • B15.9 – Hepatitis A without hepatic coma

B16 – Acute hepatitis B

  • B16.0 – Acute hepatitis B with delta-agent with hepatic coma
  • B16.1 – Acute hepatitis B with delta-agent without hepatic coma
  • B16.2 – Acute hepatitis B without delta-agent with hepatic coma
  • B16.9 – Acute hepatitis B without delta-agent and without hepatic coma

B17 – Other acute viral hepatitis

  • B17.0 – Acute delta-(super) infection of hepatitis B carrier
  • B17.1 – Acute hepatitis C
    • B17.10 – Acute hepatitis C, without hepatic coma
    • B17.11 – Acute hepatitis C, with hepatic coma
  • B17.2 – Acute hepatitis E
  • B17.8 – Other specified acute viral hepatitis
  • B17.9 – Acute viral hepatitis, unspecified

B18 – Chronic viral hepatitis

  • B18.0 – Chronic viral hepatitis B with delta-agent
  • B18.1 – Chronic viral hepatitis B without delta-agent
  • B18.2 – Chronic viral hepatitis C
  • B18.8 – Other chronic viral hepatitis
  • B18.9 – Chronic viral hepatitis, unspecified

B19 – Unspecified viral hepatitis

  • B19.0 – Unspecified viral hepatitis with hepatic coma
  • B19.1 – Unspecified viral hepatitis B
    • B19.10 – Unspecified viral hepatitis B, without hepatic coma
    • B19.11 – Unspecified viral hepatitis B, with hepatic coma
  • B19.2 – Unspecified viral hepatitis C
    • B19.20 – Unspecified viral hepatitis C, without hepatic coma
    • B19.21 – Unspecified viral hepatitis C, with hepatic coma
  • B19.9 – Unspecified viral hepatitis without hepatic coma

Over the years, the scope of the campaign got widened by organizing a wide range of activities to spread more awareness about this inflammatory condition. In fact, May 19th has been designated as “National Hepatitis Testing Day” in the United States. This one-day testing campaign sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a unique platform to remind health care providers and the public about the need to be tested for chronic viral hepatitis.

The campaign is observed throughout the United States in venues including public places, healthcare organizations and clinical areas. A variety of activities such as poster contests and sponsored walks, sharing information about the ABCs of Viral Hepatitis, free presentations and screening programs, educational campaigns, healthcare fairs (which include screening, vaccination, exams and seminars), and risk assessment tests will be organized. In addition, organizers will also focus on generating public awareness through various social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. People and organizations can use hash tags #HepAware19 and #HepTestingDay to join the conversation and share information, pictures, and videos of the activities and events you plan in May.

Participate in National Hepatitis Awareness Campaign! Educate people about viral hepatitis and the preventive measures that need to be taken.