Struck by Turtle? There's a Code for That

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GOVERNMENT UPDATE:   LIKE MOST REFORMS CONTROLLED BY A HEAVY HANDED BUREAUCRACY ... RULES WERE CHANGED MIDSTREAM PROMPTING OUR FREE MARKET SYSTEM TO REACT AGAIN TO UNEXPECTED CHANGES IN THE WAY HEALTH CARE IS REGULATED.   THIS WAS THE RIGHT CALL TO DELAY THIS GIVEN BURDENS PLACED ON OUR CARE GIVERS . - APRIL 2014

The U.S. health care system will be implementing a new coding system called ICD-10 that is scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2014.   The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will require the code sets be used by any covered entity under HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act).   Whenever we are treated for medical care, a code is assigned to designate our illness or injury.   These diagnosis codes are meant to help providers and payers better track what happened, how much it should cost and what follow-up care is needed.

The ICD-10 codes will not impact coding for outpatient procedures and physician services. There are around 13,000 codes under the current ICD-9 code set and an additional 55,000 coming next year. While the new 68,000 codes will yield enhanced reporting, the real beneficiaries in 2014 will be the IT providers who will charge more to implement the new CMS standards in their EMR systems.   These costs will get passed along to payers and consumers in the form of higher prices for treatment.

Since our U.S. government is providing plenty of comedic fodder, it seemed like a good time to pile on and share some of our favorite codes:

  • Struck by turtle, initial encounter: W5921XA
  • Struck by turtle, subsequent encounter: W5922XD
  • Hurt at the opera: Y92253
  • Stabbed while crocheting: Y93D1
  • Walked into a lamppost: W2202XA
  • Walked into a lamppost, subsequent encounter: W2202XD
  • Submersion due to falling or jumping from crushed water skis: V9037X

One of my favorite groups of codes relates to the rampant incidence of space-related injuries we often hear about. Thank goodness there are over ten codes for when a spacecraft goes out of control and plays a role in an injury.   If you collided your spacecraft the first time use V9543XA.   Do it once more and the hospital staff needs to use V9543XD for a subsequent encounter. How about codes for injuries with Macaws, Centipedes ... and others animals with from fur to feathers ... are available  here.

Over 40 medical specialty groups, state organizations and the American Medical Association (AMA) have written letters to CMS recommending they cancel the implementation of ICD-10.   The concern is that the new codes will "create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patient care."   Additionally, the letters cite the burden of code implementations on top of a growing list of challenges doctors and hospitals have with the 2014 implementations of federal and state health care reforms.

So the next time you're injured from the dangers that lurk within the Winspear Opera House or you suffer a "burn due to flaming  water-skis" ... just know that your federal government has you covered.

Photo Courtesy of PBS Newshour