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CDC Issues Care Guidance for Prolonged COVID-19 Health Issues

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on June 14 released interim guidance for evaluating and caring for patients experiencing prolonged health issues after COVID-19 infection.

The guidance covers physical and mental health conditions present four or more weeks after some COVID-19 infections, including by patients who initially had mild or asymptomatic acute infections. The interim guidance contains several key points, including:

  • patients who were hospitalized from COVID-19 should participate in follow-up visits one to two weeks after discharge and additional follow-ups should be considered on a case-by-case basis;
  • patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms could benefit from a follow-up three to four weeks after initial diagnosis if they experience new or ongoing symptoms;
  • many ongoing conditions following COVID-19 diagnosis can be assessed and monitored through primary care practitioners;
  • if needed, further diagnostic testing should not be solely relied on — a lack of laboratory or imaging abnormalities does not invalidate the existence, severity, or importance of a patient’s symptoms or conditions;
  • health care professionals should develop a comprehensive management plan with their patients to focus on improving wellbeing, in addition to setting achievable health-related goals;
  • COVID-19 vaccination should be recommended to everyone, regardless of previous diagnosis; and
  • patients experiencing prolonged conditions following COVID-19 could benefit from well-visits and updated vaccinations that were foregone during the pandemic.

CDC notes a lack of research and data on these prolonged conditions, making it difficult to properly define and attribute symptoms directly to COVID-19. Efforts to further study this area are ongoing and guidance for health care professionals likely will change as evidence evolves.

Coding Prolonged COVID-19 Effects

Documentation of SARS-CoV-2 infection and ongoing conditions following COVID-19 is critical for accurate public health surveillance. The World Health Organization has developed ICD-10 coding guidance for health care encounters related to these prolonged conditions and has recommended use of this code:

  •  U09.9 Post COVID-19 condition, unspecified — to allow the establishment of a link with COVID-19; not to be used in cases that still are presenting with acute COVID-19.

However, the U09.9 code is not yet available in the U.S. and is under review by the U.S. ICD-10 Coordination and Maintenance Committee. In the meantime, CDC recommends this code for recording prolonged health issues related to COVID-19:

  • B94.8 Sequelae of other specified infectious and parasitic diseases.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the pandemic.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Abigail Painchaud is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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