on Tuesday, 25 February 2014. All News Items | Coding

Over the next several months a lot of information will be posted concerning the do’s and don’ts of ICD-10-CM. At times it may be overwhelming. You will find the transition to be easier and less stressful the earlier you start training.

This week the focus will be on the Respiratory System. Many familiar conditions are identified in this chapter such as Asthma, COPD and Pneumonia.

The Respiratory System is made up of organs and tissues that enable us to breathe.



  • Mouth
  • Nose and Nasal Cavities
  • Pharynx
  • Larynx
  • Trachea
  • Bronchial Tubes or Bronchi, and their tubes


  • Right Lung – 3 lobes
    • Upper
    • Middle
    • Lower
  • Left Lung – 2 lobes
    • Upper
    • Lower

Lower Linked Vessels – Provide pulmonary circulation


  • Diaphragm
  • Intercostal
  • Abdominal
  • Muscles in the Neck and Collarbone area – (accessory muscles)

Here is a list of common signs and symptoms seen in the Respiratory System that may be indicative of a more severe condition. Keep in mind, you always want to be as specific as possible when coding for appropriate reimbursement and data quality.

  • Cough
  • Dyspnea
  • Asphyxia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Epistaxis
  • Hemoptysis
  • Rales
  • Hypoxemia
  • Intercostal pain
  • Tachypnea
  • Hyperventilation
  • Respiratory arrest

Categories J00 – J99

  • J00 – J06 Acute Upper Respiratory Infections
  • J09 – J18 Influenza and Pneumonia
  • J20 – J22 Other Acute Lower Respiratory Infections
  • J30 – J39 Other Diseases of Upper Respiratory Tract
  • J40 – J47 Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases
  • J60 – J70 Lung Diseases due to External Agents
  • J80 – J84 Other Respiratory Diseases Principally Affecting the Interstitium
  • J85 – J86 Supportive and Necrotic Conditions of the Lower Respiratory Tract
  • J90 – J94 Other Diseases of the Pleura
  • J95 Intraoperative and Postprocedural Complications and Disorders of Respiratory System, Not Elsewhere Classified
  • J96 – J99 Other Diseases of the Respiratory System

Classification changes in ICD-10 will provide greater specificity.

While the overall organization of ICD-10 is similar to ICD-9, diseases have been rearranged. Certain diseases/disorders have been removed from other chapters and placed in Chapter 10.

  • Streptococcal Pharyngitis (J02.0) now classified in Chapter 10, no longer will be classified with the Infectious and Parasitic Disease Chapter.
  • Ventilator Associated Pneumonia (J95.851) was previously found in the “Injury and Poisoning” Chapter in ICD-9-CM.
  • Intraoperative and post-procedure complications pertaining to the Respiratory System have been grouped together in Chapter 10 – J95.

Some codes in Chapter 10 have been expanded to include notes indicating that an additional code should be assigned or an associated condition should be sequenced first. Example:

  • Use additional code to identify the infectious agent
  • Use additional code to identify the virus
  • Code first any associated lung abscess
  • Code first the underlying disease
  • Use additional code to identify other conditions such as tobacco use or exposure

As with any chapter in ICD-10, coders must be familiar with the Official Coding Rules and Guidelines. Refer to


Many of the instructions in ICD-9-CM pertaining to COPD have been eliminated in ICD-10-CM. Here are the two hair splitting requirements in ICD-9 that have been eliminated in ICD-10:

  • Physicians will no longer have to distinguish Asthma as Intrinsic or Extrinsic.
  • Will no longer need separate codes for “Chronic Obstructive Asthma”, as opposed to “Chronic Obstructive Bronchitis” or plain ole “COPD”.
  • In ICD-10-CM, Asthma is just Asthma and COPD is just COPD.

If a patient is documented with both COPD and Asthma, two codes will be required to show each condition.


Patient presented to ER with gradual increase in shortness of breath which was unresponsive to home nebulizer treatments. In the ER, patient received more respiratory treatments; however, the patient was admitted after he failed to improve. Theophylline level was 5.9 upon admission. Chest x-ray showed no evidence of active infiltrates. The patient was bolused with IV Steroids and started on frequent respiratory therapy treatments. IV Aminophylline boluses and drip were used to increase his theophylline level to therapeutic range. The patient gradually cleared and by the next day was much better. IV Aminophylline was changed to PO. The Ventolin treatments were decreased to q 4 hr. and his Steroids were rapidly tapered back to 10 mg of Prednisone.

Discharge Diagnosis: Moderate persistent Asthma with Status Asthmaticus – J45.42
Acute Exacerbation of COPD – J44.1


Official ICD-10-CM Guidelines for Coding and Reporting – Section I.C.10.a

The Codes in categories J44 and J45 distinguish between uncomplicated cases and those in acute exacerbation.

An acute exacerbation is a worsening or a decompensation of a chronic condition. An acute exacerbation is not equivalent to an infection superimposed on a chronic condition, though an exacerbation may be triggered by an infection.

Terminology terms have been updated and added to reflect current the clinical classification of Asthma – J45. Asthma must be documented as mild, moderate or severe. Mild Asthma must be documented as intermittent or persistent.

Asthma SeverityFrequency of Daytime Symptoms
Intermittent Less than or equal to 2 times per week
Mild Persistent More than 2 times per week
Moderate Persistent Daily. May restrict physical activity
Severe Persistent Throughout the day. Frequent severe attacks limiting ability to breathe
  • Mild intermittent Asthma
    • Uncomplicated – J45.20
    • With (Acute) Exacerbation – J45.21
    • With Status Asthmaticus – J45.22
  • Mild persistent Asthma
    • Uncomplicated – J45.30
    • With (Acute) Exacerbation – J45.31
    • With Status Asthmaticus – J45.32
  • Moderate persistent Asthma
    • Uncomplicated – J45.40
    • With (Acute) Exacerbation – J45.41
    • With Status Asthmaticus – J45.42
  • Severe persistent Asthma
    • Uncomplicated – J45.50
    • With (Acute) Exacerbation – J45.51
    • With Status Asthmaticus – J45.52

Intrinsic (non-allergic) and Extrinsic (allergic) Asthma will both be classified to J45.909 – Unspecified Asthma, Uncomplicated.

MMP highly recommends an early start with ICD-10-CM/PCS training. There is no doubt the transition will be challenging. Any type of procrastination is sure to bring on stress with increased complexity and costs. Early planning and preparation will be the key to a smooth and successful transition. For timely updates and informative articles, Continue to follow MMP through their weekly newsletter Wednesday@One Part 2 of Chapter 10 – Diseases of the Respiratory System will post March 12, 2014.

Illustration: Gray, Henry. Anatomy of the Human Body. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1918;, 2000. [Date of Printout].

Article by Marsha Manning

Marsha Manning RHIT, CCS, AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer, is an Inpatient Coding Consultant at Medical Management Plus, Inc.  Marsha has over 24 years’ experience in the coding profession and has held various positions such as DRG coordinator, Coding Supervisor and HIM Supervisor. In her current position, Marsha reviews records and assists clients with coding accuracy, compliance, education and Case Mix Index (CMI) as they relate to specific entities concerning Medicare. You may contact Marsha at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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