Friday, June 18, 2010

Patient Controlled Analgesia and Intractable Pain and Epidural Catheters

Patient Controlled Analgesia

Patient controlled analgesia (PCA) services are reimbursable when they are administered by an anesthesiologist and are performed for the control of postoperative pain. A separately identifiable physician-recipient encounter should be reflected in the medical record documentation. PCA pumps are usually administered through an intravenous (IV) line or the PCA pump is connected to an epidural catheter line.

Daily management of a PCA pump through an IV line is disallowed. When an anesthesiologist provides the management of the PCA pump through an IV line, the anesthesiologist will be allowed a total of four units and will be considered a global payment for the management regardless of the number of days the recipient remains on the pump. Use procedure code 90784 for daily hospital management of intravenous patient-controlled analgesia.

The anesthesiologist should use the appropriate procedure code(s) when filing claims for a single injection or for an injection including catheter placement (epidural, subarachnoid, cervical, thoracic, lumbar, or sacral) when the PCA pump is connected to an epidural line. Placement of the epidural catheter and daily management of a subarachnoid or epidural catheter is not reimbursable on the same date of service. Daily management of a subarachnoid or epidural catheter is reimbursable on subsequent days. Delivery of pain medication through intermittent injections, a regular infusion, or by a PCA pump is included in the management of an epidural line whether a registered nurse or a physician administers it. Additional units for a PCA pump that is connected to an epidural line is not separately reimbursable.
The global surgical reimbursement fee to the surgeon includes the management of a PCA pump for post-operative pain control and is not a separately reimbursable item. Similarly, a physician’s global medical service reimbursement includes the management of a PCA pump for recipients with chronic pain control or terminal cancer and is not separately reimbursable.

Intractable Pain and Epidural Catheters

Some forms of conventional therapy such as oral medication, physical therapy, or a TENS unit may not relieve recipients with intractable pain. Placement of an epidural catheter may be allowed when medically necessary for recipients with intractable pain. Reimbursement for daily management is allowed when it is medically necessary and is a separately identifiable physician-recipient encounter is clearly documented in the medical record by the anesthesiologist. Placement of an epidural catheter and daily management of an epidural catheter is not reimbursable on the same date of service.

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