Hepatitis refers to a condition that occurs due to inflammation and damage of the liver cells. Also called viral hepatitis, the condition is the result of viral infection caused by the consumption of certain medications, heavy alcohol use, toxins and certain medical conditions. The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood and fights infections. When the liver gets inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. With an objective to generate widespread awareness among the public about the health impact of viral hepatitis, the month of May is designated as “Hepatitis Awareness Month” in the United States. There are three different types of hepatitis – A, B, and C – each having its own individual characteristics. All three types can be acute, (lasting for 6 months or less) and infections with any of these three can be fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2.4 million people in the United States are living with hepatitis C, and 862,000 have hepatitis B. Treatment options for this liver condition may depend on the type of hepatitis and the severity of infections. For correct clinical documentation of hepatitis, physicians can utilize outsourced medical billing services.

Sponsored by the Hepatitis Foundation International (HFI), the 2021 month-long campaign aims to shed light on this hidden epidemic of viral hepatitis by raising awareness of the same, and encourage priority populations to get tested. It aims to spread information among the general public that will help identify the symptoms associated with the condition at an early stage and recognize the importance of timely diagnosis and treatment to prevent the condition in the long run. In certain cases, people experience mild symptoms in the beginning and in other cases people do not experience any specific symptoms at all. Even in cases when symptoms appear, they tend to occur 2 weeks to 6 months after infection, which applies to all kinds of hepatitis. Common symptoms associated with the condition include – yellow skin or eyes, swelling of the lower extremities, nausea and vomiting, muscle or joint aches, jaundice, itchy skin, fatigue, dark urine, abdominal pain and loss of appetite and weight.

The month-long observance aims to encourage all adults in the U.S. to get tested for hepatitis B with a simple blood test, and get vaccinated with a safe and effective vaccine if they are not yet protected or infected. Initial diagnosis of the condition begins with a physical examination to check for any potential signs of infection. Liver function tests and other blood tests may also be recommended by physicians as part of the diagnosis. Imaging tests like CAT scan, Ultrasound and liver biopsy may also be performed. Treatment options may depend on the specific type of liver inflammation and severity of infections (whether it is acute or chronic). For Hepatitis A infections, urologists do not recommend any specific treatment though bed rest may be recommended (if any symptoms cause serious discomfort). Antiviral medications will be given for the other two chronic forms of Hepatitis B and C. For chronic Hepatitis C patients, liver transplantation will be recommended as a final option if they develop liver cirrhosis (scarring of the liver).

The screening and diagnostic tests performed as part of the treatment procedures must be correctly documented using the right medical codes. Relying on the services of reputable and professional medical coding companies can ensure this. ICD-10 codes for coding different types of Hepatitis include –

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
  • B17.2 – 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
  • B19.2 – Unspecified viral hepatitis C
  • B19.9 – Unspecified viral hepatitis without hepatic coma

Over the years, the scope of the campaign has widened with the Hepatitis Foundation International (HFI) organizing several activities to spread awareness about this inflammatory liver condition. May 19th has been officially designated as “Hepatitis Testing Day” in the United States – to generate awareness of viral hepatitis and encourage people to get tested. During the month of May, healthcare agencies and offices across the federal government as well as state and local partners will work together to educate people about the importance of vaccination for hepatitis A and B, testing for hepatitis B and C, the availability of effective care and curative treatment, and the serious health consequences resulting from undiagnosed and untreated viral hepatitis. As part of the campaign, a variety of programs will be organized, like – sharing blog posts and educational campaign materials, hosting hepatitis awareness month webinars, sponsoring community walks, and volunteering at a local health center to spread the reach of the campaign. People can also use social media platforms to spread awareness about hepatitis by reposting links and articles on feeds and sharing or using the hashtags #HepTestingDay, #HepAware, and #HepatitisAwarenessMonth.