The benefits of attending a 2016 ACS Surgical Coding Workshop

Each year the American College of Surgeons (ACS) hosts a series of two-day workshops about changes to the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT)* code set, with an emphasis on codes commonly used by general surgeons. Led by ACS practice management consultants, these programs include practical explanations for each change, real-life case examples, and educational materials developed by the American Medical Association (AMA).

The workshops are beneficial for surgeons, administrators, managers, coders, and reimbursement staff. Team attendance is strongly encouraged to ensure accurate, consistent, and complete coding. If the physician is an ACS member, team members or practice employees may attend the workshop at the ACS member rate. The College also recommends attending a workshop once a year because 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 regularly.

Advantages of attending

When accurate coding is aligned with a clear understanding of payment policies, practices tend to improve their profit margins. Attending an ACS coding workshop increases participants’ knowledge of coding principles and helps them 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, allowing participants to practice accurate coding.

Furthermore, 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.

Because the code set is updated annually, the topics discussed at ACS coding workshops change from year to year. In 2016, the first day of the workshop focuses on correct coding. Topics for discussion include reviewing the accuracy of your evaluation and management (E/M) coding against Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services benchmarks, assessing the built-in coding features of your electronic health record system for risks, using the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases codes to enhance payment, monitoring and managing your online reputation, addressing deficiencies in practice accounts receivable management, and sharpening your ability to review financial reports.

The second day of the workshop centers on 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 following:

  • The difference between CPT rules and Medicare rules and how this variance affects coding and billing
  • Services included in the global surgical package and what is reported separately
  • How modifiers are used and their effects on reimbursement
  • How to report and get paid for unlisted procedures
  • 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 operations done previously in the global period

Workshops qualify for CME credit

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.

Dates and locations of 2016 ACS Surgical Coding Workshops

The workshops will take place on the following dates:

  • February 11–12, Las Vegas, NV
  • March 17–18, Washington, DC
  • April 28–29, Chicago, IL
  • May 19–20, New York, NY
  • August 11–12, Nashville, TN
  • September 15–16, Dallas, TX
  • November 10–11, Chicago, IL

Registration information

Register for the two-day workshop online or call 312-642-8310. The College offers a special rate for members and their coding staff, but ACS membership is not a requirement for attendance. The member price is $650 per course or $995 for both days. The nonmember price is $750 per day or $1,095 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 and indicate that you are attending the ACS Surgical Coding Workshop for special pricing (see Table 1).

Table 1. 2016 Coding workshops




Hotel contact information

Las Vegas, NV February 11–12 Encore at Wynn Las Vegas 866-770-7555
Washington, DC March 17–18 Westin Georgetown 888-627-8406
Chicago, IL April 28–29 Palmer House Hilton 312-726-7500
New York, NY May 19–20 The Cornell Club Attendees find and book own hotel room, as necessary
Nashville, TN August 11–12 Loews Vanderbilt Hotel 800-336-3335
Dallas, TX September 15–16 The Adolphus Hotel 214-742-8200
Chicago, IL November 10–11 Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile 888-591-1234

The College also offers 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.

More information about the workshops is available on the College website.

Additional ACS coding resources

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

  • The Coding Hotline (800-227-7911), 9:00 am–6:00 pm Eastern Time. The Coding Hotline staff will answer five free coding questions per year for each Fellow. For additional information on the ACS Coding Hotline, visit the ACS website.
  • “Coding and practice management corner,” a column in the Bulletin, is published regularly and provides tips on a range of reimbursement-related issues. These and other articles are available on the ACS website.

*All specific references to CPT codes and descriptions are © 2015 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. CPT and CodeManager are registered trademarks of the American Medical Association.

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