By now most people have had the disconcerting experience of having some medical procedure or other deemed Not Covered because the physician didn’t enter a code that passed muster with the insurance company. Dr. B used to say that “I could either know billing or know medicine.” But now there’s a whole new set of codes:
Physicians have gotten a few laughs from the new and voluminous set of diagnostic codes known as ICD-10, which distinguishes between being struck by a duck (W6162XA) and being bitten by a duck (W6161XA).
[Insert “quack” joke here.]
The new codes were required as part of HIPAA. As it happens, ICD-10 is five times the size of the old ICD-9, and it’s not so hard to see why:
ICD-9, for example, recognizes that patients may seek treatment because they were bitten, and gives clinicians a few choices, such as dog, rat, snake, arthropod, unspecified animal, or human.
ICD-10, in contrast, is a veritable zoo of bite codes horse, cow, cat, pig, shark, dolphin, sea lion, alligator, macaw, parrot, and duck, to name just a few new kinds of jaws. And for each kind of bite, physicians can pick a code for an initial encounter, subsequent encounter, or sequela.
And from the Just Try to Top This file:
Some accident codes, however, defy the imagination, such as the famous V9107XA: burn due to water-skis on fire, initial encounter.
But there’s still no code for being turned into a newt, or for recovery therefrom.