Modifier 59, distinct procedure/service
Modifier 59 is used to identify procedures/services that are commonly bundled together but are appropriate to report separately under some circumstances. A health care provider may need to use modifier 59 to indicate that a procedure or service was distinct or independent from other services performed on the same day. This commonly means a different location, different anatomical site, and/or a different session.
For guidance on proper use of modifier 59, see your CPT Manual or the CMS Modifier 59 download.
Although modifier 59 may be appended to a claim line on first submission, this does not guarantee reimbursement of these services. Documentation must support a distinct procedural service.
- Providers must maintain adequate documentation in the medical record to support the use of modifier 59 for distinct services.
- We require that you submit medical records with the initial professional claim when using modifier 59 with the codes listed below.
- Addenda or amendments to the documentation will not be accepted after a claim has been denied.
- If a claim line is denied due to a clinical edit and you submit a corrected claim using modifier 59 for that claim line, we will require medical records in order to process the corrected claim.
Codes that require medical records with the initial professional claim
Submit medical records with an initial professional claim when using modifer 59 with these codes.
- 29819-29822, 29824, 29825
Nervous and ENT systems:
- Modifier 59 does not require a different diagnosis for each HCPCS/CPT-coded procedure/surgery.
- Different diagnoses are not adequate criteria for use of modifier 59.
Using modifier 59 with physical therapy codes
Your documentation must support that distinct services were rendered. The more specific XE or XP modifiers may be used to distinguish a different session or practictioner performing the services.
Learn more about the XE and XP modifiers.
Appending modifier 59 should be the exception, not the rule. Overusing this modifier may trigger a review of your medical records or an audit of your claims.
Appending the appropriate GO or GP modifiers to therapy services helps distinguish whether or not services should be bundled. Modifiers 59, XE or XP would not replace the need for the GO or GP modifier.
Learn more about using the GN, GO and GP modifiers.
Inappropriate use of modifier 59
Inaccurate or inappropriate use of this modifier can generate overpayments, incorrect coding, and increased member cost sharing. In many cases, there is a more suitable modifier that may expedite claims processing. Modifier 59 should only be used if no other modifier more appropriately describes the relationship(s) of the two or more procedure codes.
When commonly bundled procedures are performed on different fingers or toes, the use of finger (F1, F2, F3, etc.) or toe (T1, T2, T3, etc.) modifiers would be more appropriate. They would show that these are distinct services and create a clearer picture for the claim examiner as to why the services were unbundled. This may reduce the need for operative notes or medical office notes.Modifier 59 is not appropriate:
- With unlisted codes
- With some HCPSC or CPT codes, such as J codes or L codes
- To describe separate encounters, structures, practitioners or unusual non-overlapping services. See Modifiers XE, XS, XP and XU.
- Anesthesia modifiers
- AT: Active treatment
- GA and GY: Medicare non-coverage notification
- GN, GO & GP: Therapy type
- UD and UA: Treated and released or admitted/transferred (Medicaid only)
- XE, XS, XP, XU: Distinct services
- 22: Unusual procedural services
- 25: Significant service separate from E&M service
- 26 and TC: Professional and technical components
- 33: Preventive service
- 50 & 51: Bilateral and multiple procedures
- 52: Reduced services
- 53: Discontinued procedure
- 54 & 55: Surgical care and post-op care
- 56: Pre-operative management only
- 59: Distinct procedural service
- 62: Two surgeons
- 73 & 74: Discontinued outpatient surgery
- 76 & 77: Repeated procedures, same day
- 78: Unplanned return to operating room
- 80, 81, 82: Assistant at surgery