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Documenting TonsillitisTonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils most commonly caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Health professionals who treat this condition include pediatrician, family medicine physician, otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat, or ENT doctor) and nurse practitioner. Physician medical billing services for procedures like tonsillitis depend on accurate clinical documentation.

Tonsils are part of the lymphatic and immunologic system that act as filters by trapping germs that pass through the nose and mouth. They also produce antibodies that help fight infection. Though not usually a serious condition, it can be very uncomfortable and on rare occasions lead to a hospital visit. Symptoms may be milder for tonsillitis caused by a viral infection, but for a bacterial infection the symptoms will be more severe. Whether caused by virus or bacteria, complete clinical documentation for tonsillitis should include the cause, time parameter and instructional note indicating tobacco use or exposure to smoking.

Signs and symptoms of acute tonsillitis include fever, enlargement of the tonsils, difficulty swallowing, and enlargement of the regional lymph nodes. ICD-10 codes for acute condition include:

  • J03.00 Acute streptococcal tonsillitis, unspecified
  • J03.01 Acute recurrent streptococcal tonsillitis
  • J03.80 Acute tonsillitis due to other specified organism
  • J03.81 Acute recurrent tonsillitis due to other specified organism

The fifth character indicates whether the condition is acute (0) or acute recurrent (1). Additional codes from B95-B97 can be used along with J03.80 and J03.81 to identify the infectious agent.

Chronic tonsillitis is listed in category J35:

  • J35.01 Chronic tonsillitis
  • J35.03 Chronic tonsillitis and adenoiditis

The disease is recurrent, especially in children. For frequent episodes of tonsillitis, otolaryngologists may recommend tonsillectomy surgical procedure to remove the tonsils. Tonsillectomy can also treat other problems such as breathing problems related to swollen tonsils, frequent and loud snoring, bleeding of the tonsils and cancer of the tonsils. Otolaryngology medical coding can be complex as otolaryngologists have to look for specific codes for both surgical and nonsurgical services.

Surgical procedures can be documented with ICD-10-PCS codes such as:

  • 0CTP0ZZ Resection of Tonsils, Open Approach
  • 0CTPXZZ Resection of Tonsils, External Approach
  • 0CBP0ZZ Excision of Tonsils, Open Approach
  • 0CBP3ZZ Excision of Tonsils, Percutaneous Approach
  • 0CBPXZZ Excision of Tonsils, External Approach

Professional medical billing companies provide the service of an experienced team of AAPC – certified medical coders, who are skilled in CPT, HCPCS, and ICD-10 coding.