ICD-10 Medical Coding System Finally Launches In US

By Claire Caulfield
Published: Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 1:13pm
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A new medical coding system — the ICD-10 — goes into effect today in the United States. 

Europe has used this system since the 1990s, according to Carrington College’s medical billing and coding program, so this move will marry international and U.S. standards of medical coding. The old system identified about 17,000 possible aliments and diseases. ICD-10 bumps that number up to 141,000.

Carmela Shepard, of Carrington College medical billing and coding program, said this change is long overdue.

“As we’ve been going through and teaching the coding, it’s so much easier and it’s so much more specific that there’s not the unspecified or there’s no question to the exact diagnosis now,” said Shepard.

The new system was meant to be introduced last year, but it was postponed due to worries that physicians would not be paid on time as insurance companies updated their software to allow for these new codes, said Shepard. The new system introduces numbers and letters onto every code, which takes a long time to learn, said Kashuna Hopkins, who processes medical codes and documents for local doctors as owner of Favored Medical Billing.

“I would not say that it’s going to be like Y2K and shut everything down but I definitely have informed my providers and many other providers to just be prepared for some delays,” said Hopkins.

Diseases and aliments can now be tracked by period of time and zip code. Shepard said this will be a great advantage for public health and safety.

ICD-10 introduces some very specific codes, including:

  • W55.21 - Bitten by a cow.
  • Z63.1 -  Problems in relationship with in-laws.
  • Y92.241 - Hurt at the library.
  • Y92.253 - Hurt at the opera.
  • W56.22 - Struck by orca, initial encounter.
  • W56.11 - Bitten by sea lion.
  • W22.02XD - Walked into lamppost, subsequent encounter.
  • Y92.146 - Swimming pool of prison as the place of occurrence of the external cause.
  • T18.0 - Foreign body in mouth.

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