The patient presented to the Emergency Department (ED) in full cardiac arrest and respiratory failure due to an acute myocardial infarction. He was resuscitated, transtracheally intubated and placed on mechanical ventilation. The patient was admitted to the intensive care unit and after a short period he expired. The ED physician documented acute respiratory failure. However, the attending physician did not document acute respiratory failure in the health record. Is acute respiratory failure a codeable secondary diagnosis based on the ED physician’s documentation of this condition?
Yes, code 518.81, Acute respiratory failure, should be assigned based on the ED physician’s diagnosis, as long as there is no other conflicting information in the health record. Whenever there is any question as to whether acute respiratory failure is a valid diagnosis, query the provider.