The use of "diagnostic V codes" in pediatric ophthalmology.

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of AAPOS : the official publication of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus / American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus








BACKGROUND: Children requiring comprehensive eye examination for signs of familial eye disease or suspected systemic condition are referred to pediatric ophthalmologists. Such examinations may be critical to diagnosis and patient management, yet medically necessary screening examinations are not reimbursed by insurers when the patient is "normal." Faced with this dilemma regularly in a children's hospital practice, we began tracking insurer acceptance of "diagnostic V codes," which are diagnostic codes generally related to symptoms or status conditions rather than to medical states. The authors felt that "diagnostic V codes" might represent a more appropriate and correct code in the circumstance of a medically necessary screening examination found to be normal. METHODS: In July 1995 the use of 11 primary diagnostic V codes and 7 secondary diagnostic V codes was discussed in our faculty meeting and a list was displayed in each examination lane. Acceptance of V codes was then tracked for an 8-month period and analyzed 1 year later to provide a set of closed accounts. RESULTS: The code V71.8, or "observation for other specified, suspected condition" had a 73% acceptance rate by insurers on the basis of 207 examinations. The acceptance rate was not dependent on the use of a secondary code (76% for V71.8 alone vs 71% for secondary code used). Other V codes were infrequently used. CONCLUSIONS: The code V71.8 was an accepted code by insurers in our locality for medically necessary screening examinations found to be normal. The authors feel this high acceptance rate by insurers confirms our impression that V codes are the appropriate and correct codes to use for the medically necessary screening examination found to be normal.

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