Q:I specialize in therapy for patients with addiction
disorders. A psychiatrist who was seeing a young man with substance abuse
problems referred the patient's parents to me. I met with the parents for 50
minutes, discussing primarily their son's case. The son subsequently became my
patient, and I am seeing him regularly. My question is, How do I code for the
initial session with the parents?
A: The most appropriate code for you to use in this case is 90801
(psychiatric diagnostic interview exam), choosing one of the parents as the
patient for billing purposes. you should not use a consultation code because
you are not writing a report for the psychiatrist who referred the parents to
you. Neither should you use a family therapy code (90846-family psychotherapy,
without the patient present). While the family therapy code might seem to be
the most appropriate, it does not apply since the son was not yet your patient
when you saw the parents.
If you have specific questions about how to code, submit them to
APA's coding network by e-mail at
or fax at (703) 907-1089.