News in Brief: Week of March 3-7

March 05, 2014 03:30 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

CMS Decision to Add Second Week of ICD-10 Testing Follows AAFP Request

In news about testing opportunities before the nation's transition to the ICD-10-CM codes sets for outpatient diagnostic coding on Oct. 1, 2014, CMS recently revised an MLN Matters article on its online Medicare Learning Network( to state that CMS would offer a second week of acknowledgement testing in early May.

Information about the additional testing week was added two days after the AAFP asked HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a Feb. 25 letter, to require CMS to begin month-to-month testing between all physicians, health plans and payers.

CMS is offering its first week of acknowledgment testing March 3-7. Testing is important because it will give physicians, billing companies and clearinghouses an opportunity to learn whether or not CMS can accept their claims with ICD-10 codes.

'Road to 10' Resource From CMS Can Help With ICD-10 Transition

CMS has just released a free online resource dubbed "Road to 10,"( which is aimed at helping small medical practices get a handle on their transition to the ICD-10-CM code sets for outpatient diagnostic coding. This tool, built with guidance from physicians in small practices, allows physicians to build ICD-10 action plans tailored for their practice needs and begin to look at the transition as a deliberate step-by-step process.

CMS also created a special ICD-10 section for family medicine titled "Family Practice References."( This area of the site includes a list of "high impact" diagnostic codes related to common conditions family physicians see in their practices, a primer for clinical documentation, and clinical outpatient-focused scenarios, as well as additional training and educational resources.

CDC Recommends Physicians Use New Checklist to Improve Antibiotic Prescribing Practices

About half of all hospital patients receive an antibiotic for at least one day during their stay, according to the CDC. In addition, physicians in some hospitals prescribe up to three times as many antibiotics as physicians in similar areas of other hospitals.

A new CDC Vital Signs( report found that this gap in standards signals a need for improvement. The report also found that poor prescribing practices put patients at risk. For example, patients receiving antibiotics that treat a broad range of infections are up to three times more likely to get another infection caused by a more drug-resistant pathogen. And the report found that reducing the use of high-risk antibiotics by 30 percent can lower the incidence of deadly diarrhea infections caused by Clostridium difficile by 26 percent.

To improve prescribing practices and reduce patient harm, the report recommends every hospital have an antibiotic stewardship program with seven core elements:( leadership commitment, clear accountability, drug expertise, prescribing improvement action, tracking, reporting/feedback, and clinician education. The CDC has released new tools( to help inpatient facilities implement these key stewardship activities.

CMS Launches eHealth University

CMS recently launched a new online resource called eHealth University( that is designed to help physicians successfully participate in a number of CMS initiatives, including those involving administrative simplification, electronic health records, ICD-10-CM codes sets for outpatient diagnostic coding and the Physician Quality Reporting System.

The curriculum includes fact sheets, guides, checklists, webinars and videos and is available at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Get started by watching an introductory video about CMS' eHealth programs(