Tropin’s ICD-10-CM Coding Guidelines Made Easy – Book Review

Tropin's ICD-10-CM Coding Guidelines Made Easy
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** This post was reviewed and updated on November 25, 2023.**

Our Latest Review of “ICD-10-CM Coding Guidelines Made Easy”

Welcome to our latest review of Terry Tropin’s invaluable resource for medical coders and students, “ICD-10-CM Coding Guidelines Made Easy.” If you’re navigating the complex world of medical coding, especially with the latest updates, you’ll want to discover what this book is about. As a heads-up, this review contains affiliate links. Therefore, if you find this guide helpful and purchase through the links, I may earn a small commission without any extra cost to you. Please check out the disclaimer for a detailed understanding of our affiliate policy.

About the Author

Terry Tropin, RHIA, CCS-P, unveils her latest release, “ICD-10-CM Coding Guidelines Made Easy: 2024,” offering an annual update that effortlessly incorporates the latest changes effective October 1, 2023. With a wealth of experience in healthcare, Tropin brings over two decades of expertise as an AHIMA-approved ICD-10-CM/PCS trainer, specializing in teaching medical terminology, ICD-10-CM, and CPT coding.

Purpose of Writing the Book

As Tropin noted in her book, she saw a need to improve the coding textbooks’ confusing and repetitive coding guidelines. Therefore, she began to develop concise charts for her students that clearly explained the guidelines and presented them in a structured and comprehensible tabular format. It’s important to note that her guide does not aim to serve as a substitute for an ICD-10-CM coding textbook; instead, its purpose is to function as a valuable supplement to help in the comprehension and application of coding principles.

What’s Inside

Unlike the text-heavy “ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting,” Tropin’s visual presentation presents the coding guidelines in a user-friendly format, enabling coders to quickly and accurately assign the correct codes. The clear visual aids, such as charts interpreting guidelines and decision trees, enhance understanding, making it a valuable resource for novice learners and experienced coders.

The guide is organized into clear sections and includes:

  • Summary of Major changes for FY 2024: Highlights significant changes organized by chapter, with deletions marked by strikethroughs and new codes and descriptors underscored. The section also covers modifications to “Code first,” “Use Additional code,” “Code also,” and “Excludes1” and “Excludes2” notes. 
  • General Guidelines: Coding guidelines for both inpatients and outpatients and ICD-10-CM symbols, abbreviations, and phrases.
  • Coding Guidelines for Each Chapter: Guidelines specific to each of the 22 chapters in ICD-10-CM.
  • Three Interactive Quizzes: Engaging quizzes designed to test comprehension of some of the more challenging areas of ICD-10-CM, addressing obstetric versus perinatal/congenital sections, musculoskeletal versus injury chapters, and distinctions among poisoning, adverse effect, toxic effect, or underdosing. Answers to the quizzes are provided in the subsequent section of the guide. 


The two different types of charts presented throughout serve a specific purpose. One kind of chart is to interpret the guidelines, while the other type clarifies coding for complicated conditions. In this review, we provide a few screenshots from the book to better understand what you can expect.

Chart Interpreting the Guidelines

In the chart above, the guidelines for dementia have been interpreted to make coding easier. This table reflects the new coding guidelines for dementia that took effect on October 1, 2023, along with the new ICD-10-CM codes. The guidelines for dementia are in Chapter 5. Mental, Behavioral, and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

What the Dementia Chart Reveals

The chart is broken into two columns. The first column is based on what the documentation states. The second column provides the coding guidelines for that situation.

First Row

  • First Row, First Column: Indicates that the level and severity of dementia should be documented.
  • First Row, Second Column: Specifies the coding guidelines for selecting the correct code.
    • Etiology of dementia (vascular, other diseases classified elsewhere, and unspecified)
    • Presence or absence of specific behavioral disturbances
    • Severity (unspecified, mild, moderate, severe). Unspecified is to be used when the severity is not documented. 

As an example, the diagnosis is vascular dementia with mild severity. The etiology is vascular dementia. There is no specific behavioral disturbance, and the severity is mild. This would be reported with code F01.A0, Vascular dementia, mild, without behavioral disturbance, psychotic disturbance, mood disturbance, and anxiety.

Second Row

  • Second Row, First Column: Refers to when the documentation states a patient is admitted to an inpatient hospital or facility with one level of dementia that progresses to a higher level during the same admission.
  • Second Row, Second Column: Tells the coder that the guideline is to assign only one code for the highest level documented during the stay.  

For example, a patient is admitted to the hospital with mild dementia without behavioral disturbance. Before discharge, the patient had progressed to mild dementia with anxiety. As the guidelines specify, the highest level of dementia must be coded in this case: mild dementia with anxiety. After looking up the code in the Alphabetic Index and verifying it in the Tabular, our correct code is F03.A4, Unspecified dementia, mild, with anxiety. The specific type of dementia is not documented, so we must report it as unspecified.

Chart Clarifying Coding for Complicated Conditions

Tropin's ICD-10-CM Coding Guidelines Made Easy

The partial chart clarifies coding for sickle-cell anemia, specifically Hb-SS Disease, the most common type of sickle-cell anemia. The guidelines for sickle-cell anemia are in Chapter 3. Diseases of the Blood and Blood-forming Organs and Certain Disorders involving the Immune System.

What the Sickle-Cell Anemia/Hb-SS Chart Reveals

The first column of the partial chart shows the ICD-10-CM codes. The other columns indicate the conditions that may or may not be included in the code with checkmarks to indicate the particular condition.

For example, the chart shows sickle-cell anemia (Hb-SS) with splenic sequestration crises reported with D57.02. “With crisis” is check marked, and “with splenic sequestration” is check marked.

Tropin also includes other tables in her book to help with coding for other sickle-cell anemia types, namely Hb-C disease, sickle cell trait, sickle cell thalassemia, and other sickle-cell disorders (i.e., Hb-SD and Hb-SE).

Decision Trees

Decision trees are provided to help the coder assign the correct codes for hypertension, myocardial infarctions, sepsis and severe sepsis, HIV/AIDS, and COVID-19.

Tropin's ICD-10-CM Coding Guidelines Made Easy

What the Hypertension Decision Tree Reveals

The hypertension decision tree helps the coder determine the best ICD-10-CM code(s) for hypertension with pregnancy, heart disease, and chronic kidney disease. The guidelines for hypertension are in Chapter 9. Diseases of the Circulatory System. The ICD-10-CM codes and code categories appear horizontally across the bottom of the tree. The coder should select the correct code(s) with correct sequencing based on the circumstances of hypertension provided in the decision tree.

For example, suppose a patient has hypertension and a nonmaternity condition (such as renovascular hypertension). In that case, the code from category I15 (Secondary hypertension) should be sequenced first, followed by the code for the underlying condition. Additionally, if a patient has hypertension with heart disease, a coder should select a code from category I11 (Hypertensive heart disease), followed by a code from category I50.- (Heart failure), if appropriate.

What I Like About Tropin’s Book

Initially, I learned the ICD-10-CM coding guidelines using the “ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting.” It is an all-text document with no visuals, unlike Tropin’s book.

Here are my key takeaways from “ICD-10-CM Coding Guidelines Made Easy”:

  • Visual Presentation: A benefit for visual learners, Tropin’s book uses charts and decision trees for effective communication.
  • Simplified Explanations: Tropin demystifies the coding guidelines with clear, understandable explanations.
  • Convenient Organization: All guidelines are conveniently grouped based on body systems, eliminating the need to hop between sections.

Why I Continue to Choose Tropin’s Guide

Having relied on “ICD-10-CM Coding Guidelines Made Easy” for three years, I eagerly anticipate each update. The reasonable price, coupled with the book’s consistent effectiveness, makes it a staple in my coding toolkit.


In conclusion, “ICD-10-CM Coding Guidelines Made Easy” remains a top recommendation. The book’s clarity, organization, and visual aids enhance the learning experience, making it essential for both learners and seasoned coders alike. If you’re serious about mastering ICD-10-CM coding efficiently, this guide is a worthwhile investment.

Ready to Explore the 2024 Edition?

You can purchase Tropin’s latest edition of “ICD-10-CM Coding Guidelines Made Easy: 2024” on Amazon. It is available in paperback and hardcover. Simply follow the “BUY IT NOW” link below to delve into the reviews and make a purchase:


Tropin's ICD-10-CM Coding Guidelines Made Easy
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