Reprinted from April 2005 CAP TODAY
Q: We received a vertebral cytologic specimen for which the
radiologist supplied us with a core biopsy, fine-needle aspiration smears,
and the residual FNA fluid for a patient being evaluated for metastatic
carcinoma. The radiologist did not indicate that these came from different
sites so we assumed they came from the same general area. Can we use code
88305 for the core biopsy, 88311 for the decalcification procedure, 88173
for the FNA smears, and 88305 for a cell block that was prepared from
the residual fluid?
A: The pathologist may bill separately for evaluation of each
service. Report two units of 88305, Level IV-Surgical pathology, gross
and microscopic examination, for the core biopsy and cell block.
Use 88173, Cytopathology, evaluation of fine needle aspirate; interpretation
and report, to report the pathologist's interpretation and report
on the FNA. Since the specimen was also decalcified, report 88311, Decalcification
procedure (List separately in addition to code for surgical pathology
examination), as well. Modifier 59 is not required to indicate that
the services are independent of each other because there are no national
correct coding initiative edits for these code sets.
Q: With codes 80500 and 80502, are we allowed to use a hospital standing
order to comply with the Medicare requirement that the patient’s attending
physician should request the clinical consultation?
A: Standing orders in the medical record do not satisfy the attending
physician request requirement for clinical pathology consultation services
reported with 80500, Clinical pathology consultation; limited, without
review of patient’ss history and medical records, or 80502, Clinical
pathology consultation; comprehensive, for a complex diagnostic problem,
with review of patient’ss history and medical records, according to
the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Clinical consultations are payable under the Medicare Part B physician
fee schedule only if they are requested by the patient’ss attending physician;
relate to a test result that lies outside the clinically significant normal
or expected range in view of the condition of the patient; result in a
written narrative report included in the patient’s medical record; and
require that the consultant physician exercise medical judgment.
Codes 80500 and 80502 represent professional component only services
and have no technical component value.
Frequently asked questions about CPT are published bimonthly in “Capitol
Scan.” This section of CAP TODAY is a product of the CAP Economic
The codes and descriptions listed here are from Current Procedural
Terminology, 4th ed., CPT 2005. CPT 2005 is copyrighted by
the American Medical Association. To purchase CPT books, call the AMA
For more information about CPT coding, visit the CPT Coding Resource Center on the CAP Web