Will 294.20 and 294.21 take over as main dementia codes?

Two of the code set that go live Oct. 1 are new dementia codes 294.20, Dementia, unspecified, without behavioral disturbance
(Dementia NOS), and 294.21, Dementia, unspecified, with behavioral disturbance (This code includes dementia with Aggressive behavior, Combative behavior, or Violent behavior.

We have been coding with 294.10 and 294.11, which indicate Dementia in conditions classified elsewhere either with (.10) or without (.11) behavioral disturbance.

There are no Code First, or Code Underlying commands for the new 294.2x codes, so they hold an advantage that they shouldn’t be manifestation codes like the 294.1x codes. This means the 294.2x should be valid when you don’t know the disease causing the dementia, but  you have the dementia diagnosis.

It’s hard to say how much these new codes will “take over” the 294.1x codes, but hopefully, they will reduce the coding of the more vague 294.8 (Other persistent mental disorders due to conditions classified elsewhere).

Note: If your patient wandered off because of the dementia, 294.11 may have been your code, but Wandering off has been stripped from that code. See if Wandering in conditions classified elsewhere (V40.31) might describe your patient’s condition.

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