"treated as gram negative pneumonia"

Pneumonia specificity is one of our top queries. Of course, the "probable, suspected, likely" can be documented but our providers would like to be able to document where they DONT get a query or have to follow to discharge summary. If they write "treated as aspiration pneumonia" or "treated as gram negative and gram positive pneumonia" and treatment, history, or clinical picture correlates do you code or query? Feel free to attached references :)

Thanks in advance!!

Breen Nabors RN

Clinical Documentation Improvement Educator

12901 McGregor Blvd  Unit 1-B

Fort Myers, Fl 33919

Office:  239-343-8169

Cell:  239-745-0078



  • Substitute probable or suspected for “Treated as”

    Question I would ask your providers:

    If clinical evidence is pointing to aspiration or GNR Pneumonia and you are confident about your hypothesis, why wouldn’t you document the diagnosis as confirmed?

    But if diagnostic uncertainty still exists because may be cultures were negative but the provider’s intuition points to the suspected diagnosis then the verbiage “probable” is better suited for the clinical scenario. Also note the “probable” comes from the probabilistic (Bayesian) reasoning approach used in the diagnostic process.

    “Treated as” sounds like a conclusive diagnostic statement leaving out the uncertainty you get from using “probable”.

    Also even with our vast clinical knowledge as documentation specialists, we cannot formulate diagnostic opinions or make assumptions about clinical indicators which it what your providers want you to do indirectly. We still have to ask the question (query). 

  • We teach that wording such as "treating...." or "evidence of ....." is considered a definite diagnosis and would require no query- nor does it need to be followed through to the discharge summary as would an uncertain diagnosis.  
  • Hi Laura - 

    From my point of view, I think the underlying question is that- can her providers use "treated as" for an uncertain/ unconfirmed diagnosis so that they don't receive a query.
    I don't want to make any assumptions about your response, so I am asking if you think it ok for providers to use "treated as" for an uncertain diagnosis still in the infancy stage of the diagnostic process so as not to receive a query? 

  • "Treated as" is not included by Coding Clinic as a term of uncertainty which include:
    “consistent with”, “compatible with”, “indicative of, “suggestive of”, “comparable with”, “probable”, “suspected”, “likely”, “questionable”, “possible”.

    According to Coding Clinic, "evidence of" is considered confirmed/established - not an uncertain diagnosis.

    Richard D. Pinson, MD, FACP, CCS
    Pinson & Tang
    CDI Educators and Advisers
    Authors of the CDI Pocket Guide

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