Another common use of modifier 59 is for surgical procedures, non-surgical therapeutic procedures, or diagnostic procedures that are performed during different patient encounters on the same day and that cannot be described by one of the more specific NCCI-associated modifiers –i.e., 24, 25, 27, 57, 58, 78,79, or 91. (See example below) As noted in the CPT definition, modifier
59 should only be used if no other modifier more appropriately describes the relationship of the two procedure codes.
Example : Column 1 Code/Column 2 Code - 93015/93040
>CPT Code 93015 – Cardiovascular stress test using maximal or submaximal treadmill or bicycle exercise, continuous electrocardiographic monitoring, and/or pharmacological stress; with physician supervision, with interpretation and report
>CPT Code 93040 – Rhythm ECG, one to three leads; with interpretation and report
Modifier 59 may be reported if the rhythm ECG is performed at a different encounter than the cardiovascular stress test. If a rhythm ECG is performed during the cardiovascular stress test encounter, CPT code 93040 should not be reported and modifier 59 should not be used.
2. Modifier 59 is used inappropriately if the basis for its use is that the narrative description of the two codes is different.
One of the common misuses of modifier 59 is related to the portion of the definition of modifier 59 allowing its use to describe a “different procedure or surgery.” The code descriptors of the two codes of a code pair edit
usually represent different procedures, even though they may be overlapping.
The edit indicates that the two procedures should not be reported together if performed at the same anatomic site and same patient encounter as those procedures would not be considered to be “separate and distinct.” The provider should not use modifier 59 for such an edit based on the two codes being “different procedures.”(See example below)However, if the two procedures are performed at separate anatomic sites or at separate patient encounters on the same date of service, modifier 59 may be appended to indicate that they are different procedures on that date of service.
Example : Column 1 Code/Column 2 code - 34833/34820
>CPT code 34833 - Open iliac artery exposure with creation of conduit for delivery of aortic or iliac endovascular prosthesis, by abdominal or retroperitoneal incision, unilateral
>CPT code 34820 - Open iliac artery exposure for delivery of endovascular prosthesis or iliac occlusion during endovascular therapy, by abdominal or retroperitoneal incision, unilateral CPT code 34833 is followed by a CPT Manual instruction that states: "(Do not report34833 in addition to 34820)." Although the CPT code descriptors for 34833 and 34820 describe different procedures, they should not be reported together for the same side. Modifier 59 should not be appended to either code to report the two procedures for the same side of the body. If the two procedures were performed on different sides of the body, they may be reported with modifiers LT and RT as appropriate.