Thursday, September 15, 2016

There's a Code for That

While we were visiting in Dayton over the past week, my daughter-in-law Tabitha showed me an enormous book that she's gamely studying for one of her classes: the ICD-10-CM* Code Book. This massive tome contains hundreds and hundreds of pages of alphanumeric codes that have been assigned to all of the different types of diseases, injuries, mishaps, misfortunes, and weird things that doctors have had to treat and insurance companies have had to find ways to avoid paying for.

While it's not likely to be a selection of the month for Oprah's Book Club, it does nevertheless make fascinating reading. Here are a few actual examples (in bold print), with my comments:

W59.09 - Crushed by lizard (nonvenomous). I suppose it would be worse to be crushed by a venomous lizard;

G44.82 - Headache associated with sexual activity. Anything I could say would get me into trouble, therefore - no comment; and,

R46.1 - Bizarre personal appearance. I know I'll hear from some of my friends about this one.

Some of the classifications are location-specific yet injury-generic, such as:

Y92.253 - Hurt at the opera; and,

Y92.241 - Hurt at the library.

Here are two good ones for this political season:

R45.4 - Irritability and anger; and,

Z72.811 - Adult antisocial behavior. Both commonly observed at Trump rallies.

Some codes refer to "subsequent encounters," leading one to wonder about both unusual accidents and lessons not learned:

W55.29XD - Other contact with cow, subsequent encounter. I guess those stories I've heard about lonely farm boys are true;

V97.33XD - Sucked into jet engine, subsequent encounter. How can you possibly have a "subsequent encounter" on this?;

W61.62XD - Struck by duck, subsequent encounter. I guess ol' Donald can really get belligerent; or,

Y93D:V91.07XD - Burn due to water skis on fire, subsequent encounter. All I can say is, "oy!"

I imagine that one of the reasons health care is so expensive in this country is that there are reinforced platoons of people out there dreaming up codes for all these things in order to empower insurance companies to reject your claims. And yet I can see some benefit in having lists of codes to provide shortcuts that will save space in news reporting and in political campaigning. Here are a few of my suggestions:

1040.00-NO - Donald Trump still refuses to release his tax returns. Don't hold your breath;

HRC-BGZ-8756 - Congressional Republicans initiate 8756th investigation of Benghazi. Why not? They're not busy governing; and,

ZZZZZZZ.000 - Routine Congressional activity (not party-specific). Makes it easy for C-SPAN to cover.

Any other suggestions? Leave a comment.

Have a good day. See you tomorrow for the latest collection of Editorial Gems ... be here.


* International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Clinical Modification


Mike said...

I was looking at one file full of codes. 71486 of them. I can see an ER doc going, "Looks like 52127 to me."

Gonzo Dave said...

Maybe "subsequent encounter" is like a follow-up appointment? As opposed to doing the same thing again that brought you to the doctor in the first place?