The benefits of attending a 2015 ACS Surgical Coding Workshop

Each year the American College of Surgeons (ACS) hosts a series of two-day workshops on the application of changes to the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT)* code set with an emphasis on codes commonly used by general surgeons. Instructors from the practice management consulting firm KarenZupko & Associates deliver practical explanations for each change using real case examples and educational materials developed by the American Medical Association (AMA).

Who should attend an ACS Surgical Coding Workshop?

Surgeons, administrators, managers, coders, and reimbursement staff all report benefiting from the workshops. Team attendance is strongly encouraged to ensure accurate, consistent, and complete coding. Registration discounts are offered when three or more team members enroll together. Furthermore, if the physician is an ACS member, team members or practice employees may attend the workshop at the ACS member rate.

How often does coding change? Should I plan to attend a workshop each year?

Codes change frequently. In fact, the AMA updates the CPT code set annually. Moreover, improvements in coding constructs, additions of new technology, and changes to coding and reimbursement rules and payment policies make it beneficial to attend a workshop each year.

What are the advantages of attending an ACS Surgical Coding Workshop?

When accurate coding is aligned with a clear understanding of payment policy rules, practices will improve their profit margins. Attending an ACS coding workshop increases participants’ knowledge of coding principles and helps them develop the skills needed to decrease coding errors and reduce the risk of an audit. The workshop also comprises information regarding the new codes for the year and audit trends, and allows participants to practice accurate coding.

Additionally, attendees have the opportunity to share their different coding and practice management ideas, knowledge, experiences, and backgrounds with the group. Attendees can learn how their colleagues are handling coding, billing, and practice management issues.

What will I learn?

Because the code set is updated annually, the topics discussed at an ACS coding workshop change from year to year. However, the focus of the first day of the workshop is on how to code correctly. Topics include selecting the right type of code and level of service in all situations, identifying evaluation and management (E/M) services that are part of the global payment and those that may be billed separately, and the transition to ICD-10 (see related article). These topics are addressed with an emphasis on their effects on surgical practices. The second day of the workshop is dedicated to surgical case coding. The instructor discusses the information that should be included in an operative note if a surgeon is seeking reimbursement for an operation performed with an assistant or co-surgeon. Other topics discussed include:

  • The difference between CPT rules and Medicare rules and how this variance affects coding and billing
  • Services included in the global surgical package
  • Modifiers: how they are used and how they affect reimbursement
  • Coding for excisional breast biopsy or partial mastectomy
  • How to initiate a successful appeal when receiving incorrect payment
  • When and how to report E/M services for major and minor procedures, especially trauma
  • The difference between returning a patient to the operating room to treat a surgical complication and a staged procedure
  • Procedures correctly documented and reported that are unrelated to surgeries done previously in the global period

Can I earn CME for attending a workshop?

Physician attendees are eligible to receive continuing medical education (CME) credits through the ACS. Physicians are eligible for 6.5 CME credits for each day of attendance. In addition, nonphysician attendees who are members of the American Academy of Professional Coders are eligible for 6.5 continuing education units for each day of attendance.

When and where will the 2015 ACS Surgical Coding Workshops take place?

The workshops will take place on the following dates:

  • February 19–20, Las Vegas, NV
  • April 23–24, Chicago, IL
  • August 13–14, Nashville, TN
  • September 17–18, Dallas, TX
  • November 12–13, Chicago, IL

The dates and locations change each year; visit the ACS practice management Web page for the most current schedule.

How do I register?

Register for the two-day workshop online or call 312-642-8310. The ACS offers a special price for members and their coding staff, but ACS membership is not a requirement for attendance. The member price is $650 for each course or $995 for both days. The non-member price is $750 per day or $1095 for both days.

ACS Fellows and their staff should have their ACS member number available and enter it for each individual registering.

For hotel reservations, contact the hotel that is hosting the workshop using the number provided in the registration process, and then indicate that you are attending the ACS Surgical Coding Workshop for special pricing (see table).

Hotel registration information

City Date Location Phone Room rates Hotel cut-off dates
Las Vegas, NV Feb. 19–20 Wynn Las Vegas 866-770-7555



Chicago, IL Apr. 23–24 Park Hyatt Chicago 888-421-1442



Nashville, TN Aug. 13–14 Loews Vanderbilt Hotel 800-336-3335



Dallas, TX Sept. 17–18 The Magnolia Hotel 888-915-1110



Chicago, IL Nov. 12–13 Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile 888-591-1234



The ACS also offers special airfare discounts on United Airlines. Contact an ACS Travel Counselor at 800-456-4147 or, or contact United Airlines by phone at 800-521-4041 or online at When booking individual travel, be sure to indicate the name of the meeting and refer to the ACS file numbers provided for any applicable discounts.

The ACS file numbers are Agreement Code: 973454; ZCode: ZTEZ.

Additional ACS coding resources

To assist surgeons in their efforts to address coding questions, the ACS also offers the following resources:

  • The Coding Hotline (1-800-227-7911), 9:00 am–6:00 pm EST. The Coding Hotline staff will answer five free coding questions per year for each Fellow of the ACS. For additional information on the ACS Coding Hotline, visit the ACS website.
  • Coding and Practice Management Corner, a column in the Bulletin, provides tips on a range of reimbursement-related issues. The topics change monthly and in past years have included coding for hernia and other complex abdominal repairs, debridement, and sentinel lymph node mapping and its relation to biopsy. These and other articles are available on the ACS website.

*All specific references to CPT codes and descriptions are © 2014 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. CPT and CodeManager are registered trademarks of the American Medical Association.

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