When your doctor sees you, he or she has to enter a code in the system that describes the treatment provided. This gives useful information regarding public health and care quality, but it also determines how much a doctor will get paid.
As of October 1, 2015, there is a new code set that doctors must use called ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases, Revision 10).
Some of our readers have mentioned that they have been noticing a lot of commotion behind the scenes in their doctor’s office lately.
That’s because doctors and hospitals all over the country have been preparing for the switch to ICD-10. ICD-10 is far more complex and specific than the ICD-9 code system it replaced.
There are now almost 70,000 billing codes, as opposed to the previous 14,000 codes. Hospital procedure codes are expanding from 4,000 codes to 72,000 codes.
This means that your doctor will need to be a lot more specific in their coding and may have a lot more questions for you.
Many doctors think this could be problematic, especially during the transition period.
Some doctors and experts have questioned the new codes, as they are extremely specific. For example, under ICD-10, cardiologists no longer have 1 code for angioplasty, now they have 845 codes, and dermatologists now need to specify which of the 8 kinds of acne a patient has. This has caused many doctors a great deal of stress.
Even more problematic for many doctors is that the external causes of injuries have been greatly expanded in the new code system. Many of these new external causes codes are very strange, and again, very specific.
These include specific codes for:
- Sucked into jet engine, subsequent encounter;
- Pedestrian on foot injured in collision with roller-skater, subsequent encounter;
- Swimming-pool of prison as the place of occurrence of the external cause;
- Burn due to water-skis on fire, subsequent encounter;
- Spacecraft collision injuring occupant, sequela;
- And many, many more.
So next time you’re in your doctor’s office and you see them struggling to describe the reason for your visit with extreme specificity, you’ll know why.
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