America recently switched to a new code system for medical diagnoses dubbed ICD-10 which includes alphanumeric codes for 68,000 more conditions and injuries including some weird entries such as struck by an orca, caught into a jet engine, or pecked by a chicken.
The code system is used by doctors to communicate with health insurers. And if doctors get the codes wrong, they may not be paid. So, now they need to be extra careful because for nearly every condition there are dozens of codes. For instance, there are 18 different ways to report that you were poisoned from toxic mushrooms and dozens of codes for a fractured limb.
Starting Thursday, health care providers and insurers alike needed to make the switch from ICD-9 to ICD 10. The codes in ICD-9 were 36 years old so health officials thought that 2015 was the right moment to make the change. The code system contains tens of thousands of new entries, along with updated versions of old codes. For example you have now a medical diagnosis code for assault by hockey stick, having troubles with the in-laws, or being struck by a makaw.
People vented their frustration with the new code system by poking fun online and even publishing a picture book with some of the weirdest new entries called “Struck by an Orca.” The book sold about 10,000 copies in less than a month.
Health officials explained that the new code needs to be used by nearly everyone in the health care system when they try to communicate with insurers.
“These codes, they affect everybody,”
said Niko Skievaski the editor of the said illustrated book.
The new code system includes about 70,000 new codes for doctors and 72,000 codes for health care facilities. The old code contained ‘just’ 14,000 codes for doctors, and 4,000 codes for hospitals.
ICD-10 creators argued that the old code system was antiquated, and many codes didn’t mirror the recent medical advances. Other data were just plain wrong or incomplete. If health care providers aren’t specific enough about a condition or fail to submit the right code, governments and insurance companies can reject their claims.
In Montana, California, Maryland and Montana the transition to the new code system will be even more complicated since these states still run an outdated billing system. They gained approval from federal government to use the old system until they update their infrastructure. California pledged to complete the transition by 2017.
The new set of codes was based on WHO’s International Classification of Diseases guidelines, 10th edition.
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