ACS Surgical Coding Workshops help improve profit margins

Each year, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) offers workshops to teach and reinforce accurate reporting of American Medical Association (AMA) Current Procedural Terminology (CPT)* codes with an emphasis on codes that general surgeons commonly use. These courses include information about annual changes to CPT codes and payor coverage and examples of coding clinical scenarios. For the first time, the 2018 lineup will include a course on trauma and critical care coding.

Benefits of attending

The workshops are beneficial for surgeons, practice administrators/managers/coders, and reimbursement staff seeking to improve their profit margins. Team attendance is 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.

Attending an ACS Surgical Coding Workshop increases participants’ knowledge of coding principles and helps them to reduce coding errors and the risk of an audit.In addition, attendees have the opportunity to share their different coding and practice management ideas, knowledge, and experiences with the other attendees.

The agenda

The first day of the workshop will focus on the basics of correct coding. Topics for discussion include:

  • Correctly selecting the category of code and level of service for evaluation and management (E/M) visits
  • Recognizing medical and surgical services that are and are not included in the global payment for surgery
  • Collecting from patients with high deductible health plans
  • Identifying key performance indicators that improve productivity

The second day of the workshop centers on surgical case coding with a focus on general surgery, including:

  • Correctly coding common general surgery procedures, including breast, hernia, endoscopy, colorectal, bariatric, gallbladder, liver, and endovenous operations
  • Identifying areas for improvement in surgical documentation
  • Accurately applying modifiers when they are required and understanding their effect on reimbursement
  • Reporting and getting paid for unlisted procedures
  • Integrating 2018 CPT coding and Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System changes and guidelines into practice

Three of the 2018 workshops will include a third day centered on trauma and critical care coding (see Table 1). This course will cover the following topics:

  • The difference between co-surgery and assisted surgery in trauma
  • How surgical modifiers are used in trauma and how they affect payment
  • Application of coding concepts to common and complex trauma operations
  • Use of E/M and critical care services modifiers

The ACS 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.

Table 1. 2018 Surgical Coding Workshops

General surgery
Trauma coding (Saturday) Location Hotel contact information Room rates Room rate cut-off date
January 25–26 Hilton Dallas Southlake Town Square
Southlake, TX




February 8–9 February 10 Encore Wynn Resorts
Las Vegas, NV




February 22–23 Wyndham Grand Orlando
Orlando, FL




April 12–13 Hyatt Centric Chicago/
Woman’s Athletic Club of Chicago
Chicago, IL




May 17–18 May 19 The Yale Club
New York, NY
Private club—attendees find and book own hotel rooms
August 9–10 Loews Vanderbilt Hotel
Nashville, TN




November 1–2 November 3 Hyatt Centric Chicago
Chicago, IL





Workshops qualify for CME credit

Physician workshop 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 2018 ACS Surgical Coding Workshops take place?

Dates and locations are as follows:

  • January 25–26: Dallas, TX
  • February 8–10: Las Vegas, NV
  • February 22–23: Orlando, FL
  • April 12–13: Chicago, IL
  • May 17–19: New York, NY
  • August 9–10: Nashville, TN
  • November 1–3: Chicago, IL

How to register

Register for the workshops online or by phone at 312-642-8310. Although ACS membership is not a requirement to attend, the ACS offers a special rate for members and their coding staff. Fellows and their staff should enter their ACS member number 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 to receive special pricing (see Table 1).

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 838205; ZCode ZE6B.

*All specific references to CPT codes and descriptions are © 2017 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. CPT and CodeManager are registered trademarks of the American Medical Association.

These workshops offer a third day with a focus on trauma and critical care coding.



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