From "When squirrels attack! There’s a medical code for that," a recent article in the Washington Post:
[I]n a beige and windowless hotel ballroom thousands of miles away, hundreds of American medical coders are diligently chipping away at the exact same task. They’ve set out to master the nuances of the sprawling ICD-10, formally known as the Tenth Edition of the International Classification of Diseases.Read it all HERE.
With 14,000 codes, ICD-9 seems puny by comparison. The new manual explodes that code set to 68,000 much more granular and detailed terms to define — very exactly and specifically — what ails us.
The prospect of quadrupling the number of medical codes used in those calculations has touched off a heated debate over whether more specificity is an onerous layer of bureaucratic red tape — or a valuable chance to better understand and treat complex medical conditions.
The codes in ICD-10 can seem absurd in their granularity, replete with designations for seemingly impossible situations.
There are different numbers for getting struck or bitten by a turkey (W61.42 or W61.43). There are codes for injuries caused by squirrels (W53.21) and getting hit by a motor vehicle while riding an animal (V80.919), spending too much time in a deep-freeze refrigerator (W93.2) and a large toe that has gone unexpectedly missing (Z89.419).
One study funded by the American Medical Association estimated that it could cost doctors’ offices $56,000 to $8 million to transition to ICD-10, depending on the size of the practice. The AMA, one of the larger groups opposed the switch, is still petitioning the federal government to reverse course....
What a nightmare — and coming soon to a medical provider's office near you!
Additional reading (February 2012): "Parrot injuries and other tales from the annals of medical billing."