Billing for Carrying Lab Samples

October 1, 2008

I’m an ENT. We do many nasal and ear swab cultures when purulent drainage is noted. As far as I know, there are no codes to bill for these procedures. A LabCorp employee picks up the specimens each day. Can we bill if we deliver these ourselves? The lab is just down the street.

Question: I’m an ENT. We do many nasal and ear swab cultures when purulent drainage is noted. As far as I know, there are no codes to bill for these procedures. A LabCorp employee picks up the specimens each day. Can we bill if we deliver these ourselves? The lab is just down the street.

Answer: If you actually convey the specimen to the lab, you could bill CPT 99000, but Medicare doesn’t actually have a fee attached to that code. You’d need to see if your commercial payers do this, and then judge whether it would be worth losing a staff person even briefly to convey the specimens. (I’m guessing not.) Keep in mind that you are getting paid for analysis of the results and dependent medical decision making.