CDC provides guidance on how to code for possible vaping, e-cigarette-related injuries

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — New guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics on how to code for healthcare encounters related to e-cigarette or vaping use could be a helpful tool, some physicians say.

Dr. Maria Monge, section chief of adolescent medicine at Dell Children’s Medical Group, says experts who work in adolescent medicine and pediatrics currently have a heightened sense of what’s happening.

“Vaping has become something that more and more people are talking about,” Monge said. “The reason why is that the statistics back that up.”

“Almost one in three high school students at this point are vaping,” she added. “That is astronomical compared to where we were with cigarettes just a few years ago.”

But a challenge is identifying whether symptoms are tied to vaping or e-cigarette use. Asking specific questions about possible product use is important, Monge noted.

“How do we sort out when to worry that something is lung pathology, i.e. it’s a virus, it’s something related to an illness, versus when is something vaping related?” she said.

The new CDC guidelines have codes listed for lung-related complications, poisoning and toxicity, substance use and other signs and symptoms where a definitive diagnosis hasn’t been established.

“I think for those of us who are kind of on the front lines seeing this, we are at a loss sometimes because we don’t know how to advise our patients and their families, so if we are starting to have more and more data because we’re tracking it better with specific guidelines, then what’s going to happen is that information is going to come back to us where we can advise families and patients better on what to look for in symptoms,” Monge said.

Finding those connections can help identify possible cases, she said.

“We need to be working on ways to interrupt the cycle of use,” Monge said. “What they’re going to allow us to do is to kind of isolate all of the cases that we think are most connected to what’s going on.”

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