Anatomic Pathology’s Most Costly Errors in Coding: A Ten-Part Series

Friends and associates of DARK Daily and The Dark Report are always giving us ideas as to how to improve coding and stop costly coding errors before they start. With this accumulation of ideas at hand, DARK Daily brings you a 10-part series entitled “Anatomic Pathology’s Most Costly Coding Errors,” with each daily focusing on a different coding error. We will interrupt this series, as necessary, to bring you late-breaking and important laboratory news.

Before we begin the series, let us pause to consider why coding is so important. Proper coding is the cornerstone for submitting clean claims and getting prompt payment from insurers. Proper coding also improves communication between pathologists and their employees. It also helps strengthen the laboratory’s long term relationship with patients. Ultimately, it results in improved patient care, easier insurance company billing, and fewer lengthy disputes with insurance companies that require resolution.

Let us lead off with basic strategies to improve documentation and coding.

  • All billed services should be medically necessary and clearly documented as such
  • Avoid using confusing acronyms (ex. “TP”)
  • Assign unlisted specimens the code that most closely reflects the physician’s work
  • Be consistent within a group for coding of unlisted specimens
  • Implement an internal system to review coding
  • Conduct report audits at least once per year

We must give credit where credit is due. Our coding tips and coding errors are thanks largely in part to Chappy Manning, RN, CPC, adapted from her presentation at the 2006 Executive War College in Miami, Florida.

On a final note, if you think of coding tips as the series progresses, do not hesitate to email them to Sylvia at We have no problem with expanding the series to more than 10 tips if more useful ideas surface!

Yours Truly,

Robert & Sylvia