April for Clinical Coders – Lauren Saxton ACC


April for Clinical Coders – Lauren Saxton ACC

If you were to ask someone what they associate with April they will probably answer one of the following; the clocks going forward and lighter nights, Easter, April showers, lambing season.

Ask a Clinical Coder what April means to them and they will tell you; year end and the introduction of new standards.


Notes spilling out the racking system onto the floor, overflow boxes full to busting and mountains of notes stacked as high as the ceiling. The constant incoming requests from the Clerical Team “Can someone code me an endocrine set for collection in an hour” “Mortuary want one coding” “Cardio set for MDT” due to the sheer volume of notes in the Office. Cold cups of coffee because you received a ward call out for a patient who is being discharged to a nursing home after her 6 month inpatient stay for a geriatric fall. Month end is always a crazy time, but year end feels that level of intensity multiplied by twelve.

If I was to liken how year end feels to anything it would be the film 300. SPOILER ALERT: 300 is a film based upon war between Persia and Greece. At the Battle of Thermopylae, Leonidas, King of the Greek city of Sparta, leads his outnumbered warriors against the massive Persian army. Though certain death awaits the Spartans, their sacrifice inspires all of Greece to unite against their common enemy.

Clinical Coders are the outnumbered Spartan warriors and the case notes awaiting coding are the massive Persian army!  OK perhaps I am a little too stressed, but you get the picture!

If year end wasn’t enough to contend with, this year we have the delightful introduction of OPCS 4.8 = new books. Writing up the coding standards has brought with it numb hands and late nights. Besides these negatives, new books brings with it the chance to go through the manual front to back and revisit areas that I don’t code on a daily basis.

It means fresh pages with no rubbings out.

It means fresh text to highlight.

And, the smell of new books is aaaaaaaaamazing!

This year the process has been different from previous years, instead of a hard copy paper manual the OPCS 4.8 manual is electronic. NHS Digital is exactly what it says on the tin.

This is something I have found difficult, I love a book to work from (ticking off methodically as I go) and have found it much harder writing the coding standards from the laptop screen. After a few chapters, I decided to download the manual onto my Kindle, but this was pretty much the same as the book just a lot smaller! I am hoping now that I have written the standards up, I will start to see the benefit of an electronic manual as it does have some features which I am sure will prove incredibly handy – such as the search and highlight tools and the function to add notes!

How have you all found the electronic manual? Send your experiences to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will publish your responses in the next newsletter.

Hang on in there clinical coders. Never mind 300 – MAY the force be with you