Yep, There’s a Medical Code for Being Bitten by Shamu

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Sarah Kliff reports on the ongoing battle over the ICD-10, a set of medical codes for illnesses and injuries that’s far more detailed than the current ICD-9:

There are different numbers for getting struck or bitten by a turkey (W61.42 or W61.43). There are codes for injuries caused by squirrels (W53.21) and getting hit by a motor vehicle while riding an animal (V80.919), spending too much time in a deep-freeze refrigerator (W93.2) and a large toe that has gone unexpectedly missing (Z89.419).

….Hospitals and insurers have fought the new codes, calling them a massive regulatory burden….ICD-10 proponents contend that adding specificity to medical diagnoses will provide a huge boon to the country. It will be easier for public health researchers, for example, to see warning signs of a possible flu pandemic — and easier for insurers to root out fraudulent claims.

“How many times are people going to be bitten by an orca? Probably not very many,” said Lynne Thomas Gordon, chief executive of the American Health Information Management Association. “But what if you’re a researcher trying to find that? You can just press a button and find that information.”

Depending on who you listen to, we are either hopelessly behind the rest of the world in implementing common-sense international standards or else the only country in the world that’s holding out against the madness. Read the whole thing and decide for yourself.

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