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Do I need to put the period (decimal point) in the ICD-9 code

Therabill Support Specialist
posted this on September 02, 2013 11:49

We often hear members refer to it as a decimal point in the ICD-9 code.  We will try not to use this terminology because  it misleads us in to thinking that the ICD-9 code is a decimal number.  The diagnosis code (ICD-9) code is not really a decimal number.  It is a hierarchical code.  The first three (sometimes first four if preceded by an 'E') represents the general category and the numbers after the period are used for specificity (more specific sub-categories).  For this reason, we will refer to it as a dot separator instead of a decimal point.

The short answer to the question of whether you need to enter the dot separator when entering the ICD-9 code in to Therabill is, no, it does not matter. In fact, Therabill will actually remove the dot separator for storage.  For information about adding diagnosis codes to a patient in Therabill, please see: Entering diagnosis codes in Therabill.

How Does Therabill Handle the Formatting of the ICD-9 code?

Because of the variety of ways that the ICD-9 code must be formatted and processed, it is easier for Therabill to strip out any period you may have entered and store it without the period. The way that Therabill displays the ICD-9 code depends on where it is being displayed.

On a Printed CMS-1500

When putting the ICD-9 code in to Box 21 of the CMS-1500, Therabill takes the first 3 characters (first 4 characters if the first character is an 'E') and puts it before the pre-formatted period on the CMS-1500.  It then takes the last two characters that you have entered as the ICD-9 code for the patient and enters them in the second position (after the pre-formatted period) in Box 21 of the CMS-1500.  

On electronic claims (EDI claims)

The format of how to send the ICD-9 code is strict in the EDI standards.  it goes out without the dot separator. 

On your documentation

Therabill will format the ICD-9 code with the dot separator for ease of reading if you choose to have the ICD-9 codes automatically listed when printing a note template (using the custom documentation feature of Therabill).

On client statements

Therabill will format the ICD-9 code with the dot separator for ease of reading if you choose to have the ICD-9 codes automatically listed at the top of your client statements.