Laboratory Question for the Week of April 18, 2022


Can you tell me what are the common billing mistakes involving specimen collection?


Common billing mistakes that labs may encounter include:

  • Billing for capillary punctures as a venipuncture, or for a venipuncture with every point-of-care glucose.
  • Billing for multiple venipunctures with a glucose tolerance test.
  • Billing for venipunctures not performed by laboratory staff (when blood is collected in the physician’s office and sent to the lab).
  • Billing for venipunctures provided by non-lab hospital staff is permissible as long as double billing does not occur (for example, the ER draws a sample and submits a bill, and the lab does, too).
  • Billing line draws (venous access line or arterial line) with 36415 or 36600 as it is not a separately billable specimen collection procedure.

Additionally, Chapter 5 of current NCCI policy narratives, as updated for 2022, states the following in regards to codes 36591 and 36592: “19. CPT code 36591 describes “collection of blood specimen from a completely implantable venous access device.” CPT code 36592 describes “collection of blood specimen using an established central or peripheral catheter, venous, not otherwise specified.” These codes shall not be reported with any service other than a laboratory service. That is, these codes may be reported if the only non-laboratory service performed is the collection of a blood specimen by one of these methods.”

This question was answered in our Coding Essentials for Laboratories. For more hot topics relating to laboratory services, please visit our store or call us at 1.800.252.1578, ext. 2.

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