While sifting through my emails this weekend, I saw a new billing system hit all US medical offices “that classifies procedures and diseases in ways that could help public health researchers and physicians better evaluate and treat patients.”

Called the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), all US medical offices and everyone who bills Medicare and Medicaid had to switch to this format earlier this month. The new hotness added 70,000 medical codes to the existing tome that was in place already for “clarification purposes”.

Gone are the dark ages of the non-descriptive “idiot was bit by an animal” and “hold my beer redneck is wasting space in my OR” codes. The new system is very, VERY specific.

Here are a few of my favorites…

  • 86824 W5321   Bitten by squirrel
  • 86826 W5321XD Bitten by squirrel, subsequent encounter (HE’S BACK! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!)
  • 76925 T63013  Toxic effect of rattlesnake venom, assault (Aren’t all snakebites an assault?)
  • 77486 T63821  Toxic effect of contact w venomous toad, accidental (I told ‘im not to lickem! I done told ‘im!)
  • 77652 T65223  Toxic effect of tobacco cigarettes, assault (now THIS has some potential!)
  • 80829 V0191XD Pedestrian on roller-skates injured in collision with pedal cycle, unspecified whether traffic or nontraffic accident, subsequent encounter (THAT’S a specific code!)
  • 82165 V393 Occupant (driver) (passenger) of three-wheeled motor vehicle injured in unspecified nontraffic accident (the old “hold my beer” trick)

While I’m sure the codes have good intent behind them, having 91,737 line items to sift through is ridiculous. I feel bad for all the hospital staff that have to wade through this new muck “that classifies procedures and diseases in ways that could help public health researchers and physicians better evaluate and treat patients.”

What’s next? Specific goat codes? Multiple bear attack codes based on type and weight?

A link to the ICD and its’ impact is at International Business Times, the Smithsonian link, and there’s even a CDC link to download all the new codes.