The International Coding of Diseases-10 Is Hilariously Specific

The people behind ICD-10 thought of absolutely everything and don't seem to understand waterskiing.

For the first time in more than 30 years, the language used to categorize medical conditions in the American healthcare system has changed. Called the International Coding of Diseases-10, the ICD-10 is the tenth revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, the World Health Organization’s official method for recording injuries, diseases, and other medical conditions.

The ICD-10 replaced the ICD-9 yesterday, October 1. The United States was the last country in the WHO to sign on to the changes. Among the chief evolutions ICD-10 boasts over ICD-9: specificity. There are 87,000 ICD-10 procedure codes, compared to 3,000 codes in ICD-9. And, yes, many of them are ridiculous.

Y92.293: “Hurt at the opera.”

V97.21XD: “Parachutist entangled in object.”

V91.07XA: “Burn due to water-skis on fire.”

V90.25XA: “Drowning and submersion due to falling or jumping from burning canoe or kayak.”

W55.52XA: “Struck by a Raccoon.”

V39.19XD: “Passenger in three-wheeled motor vehicle injured in collision with other motor vehicles in nontraffic accident.”

W60.XXXD: “Contact with nonvenomous plant thorns and spines and sharp leaves.”

V80.02XA: “Occupant of animal-drawn vehicle injured by fall from or being thrown from animal-drawn vehicle in noncollision accident.”

With that greater specificity comes a greater capacity for data — and the change is much needed. The ICD-9 was so maxed out that there wasn’t an opportunity for the United States — the last country to sign onto the changes — to record information about the Ebola scare from 2014.

Only groups that are HIPAA — that’s Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act — compliant must follow the changeover to the ICD-10 system, which has raised concerns that the changeover will not go smoothly. But with data repositories like readily available, the hope is that doctors and medical personnel will be able to quickly look up what changes and adjustments have been made to the now-traditional coding system.

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