Friday, April 8, 2011

Absurd arguments for ICD-10-CM

Sometimes, the arguments in favor of ICD-10-CM border on the absurd. In the January, 2011 issue of Healthcare IT News, the increased "specificity" of ICD-10-CM is highlighted as improving cost savings and disease management. What evidence are we given? The following list of codes:

I'm sure that there are hundreds of billions of dollars to be saved in the health care system, now that we can only code dolphin and sea lion bites better.

Dr. Joel Diamond, in his Health Interoperability Blog, documents similarly absurd arguments here. One proponent of ICD-10-CM said we'd be better off because we would be able to document not just "sports injury", but also whether the injured party was struck by a basketball, baseball, or football.

Busy clinicians trying to take care of sick patients are the ones we will rely on to code this additional specificity, however. Do we really want to distract them from patient care to find the code for dolphin vs. sea lion bites, or strikings by basketball vs. baseball? Is this really the best use of six-figure talent?


Skeptical Scalpel said...

A tweeter named @gruntdoc told me about your blog. Looks like we have a lot in common. I've been tweeting about these stupid new ICD-10 codes for three weeks.

I've also blogged about them at and

Spero melior said...

Indeed we do have a lot in common :-)

I appreciate how you tracked down the story on the "contact with dolphin" codes...

I too wonder how water skis might catch on fire. A pressing public health problem right up there with obesity and ATV injuries to be sure.