Coding in surgery: impact of a specialized coding proforma in hepato-pancreato-biliary surgery.

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Coding inaccuracies in surgery misrepresent the productivity of hospitals and outcome data of surgeons. The aim of this study was to audit the extent of coding inaccuracies in hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) surgery and assess the financial impact of introducing a coding proforma.


Coding of patients who underwent elective HPB surgery over a 3-month period was audited. Codes were based on International Classification of Diseases 10 and Office of Population and Census Surveys-4 codes. A coding proforma was introduced and assessed. New human resource group codes were re-assigned and new tariffs calculated. A cost analysis was also performed.


Prior to the introduction of the coding proforma, 42.0% of patients had the incorrect diagnosis and 48.5% had missing co-morbidities. In addition, 14.5% of primary procedures were incorrect and 37.6% had additional procedures that were not coded for at all. Following the introduction of the coding proforma, there was a 27.5% improvement in the accuracy of primary diagnosis (P < 0.001) and 21% improvement in co-morbidities (P = 0.002). There was a 7.2% improvement in the accuracy of coding primary procedures (P = not significant) and a 21% improvement in the accuracy of coding of additional procedures (P < 0.001). Financial loss as a result of coding inaccuracy over our 3-month study period was £56 073 with an estimated annual loss of £228 292.


Coding in HPB surgery is prone to coding inaccuracies due to the complex nature of HPB surgery and the patient case-mix. A specialized coding proforma completed 'in theatre' significantly improves the accuracy of coding and prevents loss of income.

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