Defining and Coding Alzheimer's Disease

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that destroys memory, mental function, thinking skills and affects the behavior of those plagued with the disease. In the disease process, the brain cells degenerate and die which leads to dementia/decline in memory and mental function. It is the most common cause of dementia and accounts for over 50% of the cases of diagnoses of dementia. The disease is irreversible and progressive and typically begins in patients during their 60’s.

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia coding

Dementia is an inherent part of the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. The physician does not have to give both a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in order to report both codes. Per the ICD-10-CM Alphabetic Index, G30.9 would be reported first, followed by F02.81 or F02.80 to show dementia with or without behavioral disturbances. Since the codes F02.80 and F02.81 are in brackets, these are considered a manifestation of the disease and would be sequenced second per the Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting (1.A.13) or pages 11 & 12 of FY2017.

From the ICD-10-CM Alphabetic Index:

Alzheimer’s G30.9 [F02.81]

    1. with behavioral disturbance G30.9 [F02.81]

Please see example in AHA Coding Clinic, First Quarter 2017 Pages 43-44 for further explanation.

AHA Coding Clinic, First Quarter 2017 Pages 43-44
ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting FY2017, Pages 9, 11-12

For the past 30 years, HIA has been the leading provider of compliance audits, coding support services and clinical documentation audit services for hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, physician groups and other healthcare entities. HIA offers PRN support as well as total outsource support.


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The information contained in this coding advice is valid at the time of posting. Viewers are encouraged to research subsequent official guidance in the areas associated with the topic as they can change rapidly.

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