Global Surgery Coding and Billing Guidelines - what modifier to use


Physicians Who Furnish the Entire Global Package

Physicians who furnish the surgery and furnish all of the usual pre-and post-operative work may bill for the global package by entering the appropriate CPT code for the surgical procedure only. Separate billing is not allowed for visits or other services that are included in the global package. When different physicians in a group practice participate in the care of the patient, the group practice bills for the entire global package if the physicians reassign benefits to the group. The physician who performs the surgery is reported as the performing physician.

Physicians Who Furnish Part of a Global Surgical Package

More than one physician may furnish services included in the global surgical package. It may be the case that the physician who performs the surgical procedure does not furnish the follow-up care. Payment for the post-operative, post-discharge care is split among two or more physicians where the physicians agree on the transfer of care. When more than one physician furnishes services that are included in the global surgical package, the sum of the amount approved for all physicians may not exceed what would have been paid if a single physician provided all services, except where stated policies allow for higher payment. For instance, when the surgeon furnishes only the surgery and a physician other than the surgeon furnishes pre-operative and post-operative inpatient care, the resulting combined payment may not exceed the global allowed amount. The surgeon and the physician furnishing the post-operative care must keep a copy of the written transfer agreement in the beneficiary’s medical record. Where a transfer of care does not occur, the services of another physician may either be paid separately or denied for medical necessity reasons, depending on the circumstances of the case. Split global-care billing does not apply to procedure codes with a zero day post-operative period.

Using Modifiers “-54” and “-55”

Where physicians agree on the transfer of care during the global period, services will be distinguished by the use of the appropriate modifier:
• Surgical care only (modifier “-54”); or
• Post-operative management only (modifier “-55”). For global surgery services billed with modifiers “-54” or “-55,” the same CPT code must be billed. The same date of service and surgical procedure code should be reported on the bill for the surgical care only and post-operative care only. The date of service is the date the surgical procedure was furnished. Modifier “-54” indicates that the surgeon is relinquishing all or part of the post-operative care to a physician.
• Modifier “-54” does not apply to assistant-at-surgery services.
• Modifier “-54” does not apply to an Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC’s) facility fees. The physician, other than the surgeon, who furnishes post-operative management services, bills with modifier “-55.”
• Use modifier “-55” with the CPT procedure code for global periods of 10 or 90 days.
• Report the date of surgery as the date of service and indicate the date care was relinquished or assumed. Physicians must keep copies of the written transfer agreement in the beneficiary’s medical record.
• The receiving physician must provide at least one service before billing for any part of the post-operative care.
• This modifier is not appropriate for assistant-at- surgery services or for ASC’s facility fees.

Exceptions to the Use of Modifiers “-54” and “-55”

Where a transfer of care does not occur, occasional  post-discharge services of a physician other than the surgeon are reported by the appropriate E/M code. No modifiers are necessary on the claim.
Physicians who provide follow-up services for minor procedures performed in emergency departments bill the appropriate level of E/M code, without a modifier. If the services of a physician other than the surgeon are required during a post-operative period for an underlying condition or medical complication, the other physician reports the appropriate E/M code. No modifiers are necessary on the claim. An example is a cardiologist who manages underlying cardiovascular conditions of a patient.

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