What Is Pain Management Coding?

Todd Podzemny

Pain management coding is a specialized subset of medical coding that incorporates data related to the diagnosis and treatment of pain. Properly coding all aspects of a pain management regimen allows attending physicians to keep track of all attempted treatments. This can help identify the most effective methods and any potentially harmful treatment or drug combinations. Providing properly coded records to insurance companies and employers gives these organizations the information they need to determine coverage of acute and chronic pain conditions.

The precision provided by pain management coding allows a physician to directly compare a patient's diagnosis with the treatment histories of patients with similar conditions.
The precision provided by pain management coding allows a physician to directly compare a patient's diagnosis with the treatment histories of patients with similar conditions.

Medical coding is a method of translating medical data into a set of standardized codes. This allows the data to be effectively shared across healthcare-related fields while reducing the chances of miscommunication or misinterpretation of the information. Pain management coding communicates the underlying cause of a patient's pain, the location and severity of it, the acute or chronic nature of the condition, and the patient's treatment history. The coding system is designed to eliminate as much subjective information as possible.

Pain management coding may be used to determine how many patients are receiving alternative treatments, such as electrical nerve stimulation therapy.
Pain management coding may be used to determine how many patients are receiving alternative treatments, such as electrical nerve stimulation therapy.

The high degree of precision provided by pain management coding allows a patient's medical data to be subjected to a range of analytical methods. A physician may directly compare a patient's diagnosis with the treatment histories of patients with similar conditions, to predict the effectiveness of a given course of medical treatment. The same data may be also be examined through statistical analysis, across a large number of related cases, to determine best practices or identify problems with current, common approaches to pain management.

Pain management coding is also widely used by insurance companies and employers that provide worker's compensation and disability benefits. By creating specific practices based on medical coding, rather than interpreting subjective reports on a case-by-case basis, these institutions are able to treat their clients with a high degree of consistency. The ability to prove that a client was treated exactly the same as other people with similar conditions is an important defense against lawsuits. Coding also helps assure that clients are provided with the level of protection and coverage to which they are entitled.

The primary objective of pain management coding is to ensure that a patient's medical data is accurately communicated to everyone involved with his treatment. Since pain management often involves the use of powerful medications, it is important for a physician to have a clear picture of the patient's treatment history. The patient's safety, quality of life, and chances of recovery are all improved through the proper use of this medical coding.

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