by Mary Beth York, CCS, CCS-P
Senior Associate at Barry Libman Inc. and Libman Education
The CCS exam tests your acute hospital inpatient and outpatient coding skills at a mastery level. It is recommended (but not mandated) that you have at least three years actual hospital inpatient and surgical outpatient coding experience. The successful candidate will also demonstrate proficiency in anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology.
The key to successfully passing the CCS exam is having the skill to recall, analyze and apply the Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting. You also need to skillfully use your ICD-10 and CPT books.
During the exam, follow the basic coding steps for each and every diagnosis and/or procedure code assignment. Failure to follow these steps can and will result in the incorrect code assignment.
1. Locate the main term in the ICD-10-CM Alphabetic Index
2. Identify nonessential modifier related to the main term.
3. Review all subterms related to the main term.
4. Follow all index cross-reference instructions
a. Refer to any notes in the Alphabetic Index.
5. Verify the selected code in the tabular
a. Read the code title.
6. Follow all tabular instructions; they can be found:
a. At the code.
b. At the 3 digit category.
c. At the beginning of the section or chapter.
7. Refer to other codes as instructed.
8. Determine whether an additional character must be added.
9. Determine laterality (right or left) and any applicable extensions.
10. Assign the code
Having taught several classes and coached many individuals to get their CCS, I have found that preparation is essential and time consuming. Remember: once you successfully pass the CCS exam, you will never have to do that again!
Six Choices to Help You Prepare for the CCS Exam – Which is Right for You?
Libman Education offers 6 different ways to help you prepare for the CCS Exam (including 2 options just for CDI Specialists!).
Choose the option that best fits your learning style. Develop the skills you need to pass the CCS! Learn more here.