Greater physician involvement improves coding outcomes in endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration procedures

Anilkumar Pillai, Andrew R L Medford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Correct coding is essential for accurate reimbursement for clinical activity. Published data confirm that significant aberrations in coding occur, leading to considerable financial inaccuracies especially in interventional procedures such as endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA). Previous data reported a 15% coding error for EBUS-TBNA in a U.K. service.

OBJECTIVES: We hypothesised that greater physician involvement with coders would reduce EBUS-TBNA coding errors and financial disparity.

METHODS: The study was done as a prospective cohort study in the tertiary EBUS-TBNA service in Bristol. 165 consecutive patients between October 2009 and March 2012 underwent EBUS-TBNA for evaluation of unexplained mediastinal adenopathy on computed tomography. The chief coder was prospectively electronically informed of all procedures and cross-checked on a prospective database and by Trust Informatics. Cost and coding analysis was performed using the 2010-2011 tariffs.

RESULTS: All 165 procedures (100%) were coded correctly as verified by Trust Informatics. This compares favourably with the 14.4% coding inaccuracy rate for EBUS-TBNA in a previous U.K. prospective cohort study [odds ratio 201.1 (1.1-357.5), p = 0.006]. Projected income loss was GBP 40,000 per year in the previous study, compared to a GBP 492,195 income here with no coding-attributable loss in revenue.

CONCLUSIONS: Greater physician engagement with coders prevents coding errors and financial losses which can be significant especially in interventional specialties. The intervention can be as cheap, quick and simple as a prospective email to the coding team with cross-checks by Trust Informatics and against a procedural database. We suggest that all specialties should engage more with their coders using such a simple intervention to prevent revenue losses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-21
Number of pages5
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.


  • Clinical Coding
  • Cost Savings
  • Diagnostic Services
  • Direct Service Costs
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration
  • Great Britain
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Diseases
  • Mediastinal Diseases
  • Physician's Role
  • Quality Improvement


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