What is Medical Necessity?

The Chiro.Org Blog

SOURCE:   A Chiro.Org Editorial

“Medical Necessity” is the slippery slope, according to the Physician’s News Digest

“There are almost as many definitions of medical necessity as there are payors, laws and courts to interpret them. Generally speaking, though, most definitions incorporate the principle of providing services which are “reasonable and necessary” or “appropriate” in light of clinical standards of practice. The lack of objectivity inherent in these terms often leads to widely varying interpretations by physicians and payors, which, in turn, can result in the care provided not meeting the definition.”


Medicare defines “medical necessity” as services or items reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of illness or injury or to improve the functioning of a malformed body member.

From an Insurers standpoint, this is why documentation of the patient encounter is so important. The standard note taking format for every patient encounter is the SOAP note. Medical (chiropractic) necessity is defined by your own notes. Let’s review what actually defines reasonable and necessary in the SOAP note:

There are more articles like this @:

The new SOAP Notes Page and our

Documentation Section


S stands for subjective complaints.
During the first part of every patient encounter, the doctor uses their interviewing skills to paint a picture. If the patient has complaints in multiple regions, it’s best to cover them one region at a time. For example:

Neck: Right sided neck pain in the C4-C5 region of a 6/10 severity, which radiates into the right trapezius region, increases to 8/10 with R rotation or R lateral bending, decreases with rest. Patient also experiences neck stiffness of a 5/10 severity, making it difficult and uncomfortable to parallel park safely.

Low Back: Left sided low back pain in the SI region of a 7/10 severity, with referral to the L buttock and L inguinal region. Pain is decreased with ice, and increases with sit-to-stand after long sitting. This pain has forced the patient to discontinue bowling for the last 2 weeks.

NOTE: If you use any form of shorthand in your notes, make sure that each page has a key at the top that translates your notes back into English.

Examples of Chiropractic Shorthand:

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