Last week, I ran across this very entertaining piece over in Healthcare Dive about the new ICD-10 codes. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is an incredibly useful tool in public health that basically can reduce an injury to a series of numbers. As you can imagine, this is very powerful when it comes to determining if something is on the rise. Researchers can easily count the number of times something occurs, and if it’s up from previous years, there might be something there.
Part of the beauty of the ICD-10 codes is how specific they are. The previous system, ICD-9 (creative, I know) wasn’t nearly as specific as they only had 13,000 codes compared to the 68,000 in ICD10. With the advent of ICD-10, The Powers That Be have gone into painstaking detail breaking down injuries, diseases and other maladies into incredible precise codes that can be used by researchers and public health professionals.
Today, we’re going to go through my favourite ones.
W55.89XA: Other contact with other mammals
There are many codes for contact with mammals. Raccoons, cows, pigs and cats are all represented. However, the mighty seal is not covered, which made Buster Bluth very sad. He would have suffered from W55.89XA.
W61.12XA: Struck by macaw, initial encounter.
Look like our patient
*puts on sunglasses*
Is a little Macaw-struck
(The other option here was for an AC/DC reference…)
V97.33XD: Sucked into jet engine, subsequent encounter.
Now, I’m not an MD. But, if you are getting sucked into a jet engine on more than one occasion, you may want to re-evaluate your life choices.
W22.02XD: Walked into lamppost, subsequent encounter.
I don’t really know if going to see a doctor is the best solution here, or just looking where you’re going. I do imagine this being on the rise as the epidemic of texting and walking continues to rise.
(Ed note: Subsequent encounter here means they have seen the doctor previously for the same complaint, not that they have done it several times, even though the latter does make it funnier).
I also looked at some and realized they could be for superheroes…
T63.301A: Toxic effect of unspecified spider venom, accidental (unintentional), initial encounter
Spiderman, spiderman, does whatever a T-63-301-A can!
T75.01XA: Shock due to being struck by lightning, initial encounter
When he was hit by lightning, Barry Allen turned from a police scientist to become The Flash! One of the greatest superheroes of the Silver Age!
W88.1: Exposure to ionizing radiation
HULK NO LIKE BAD CODES. HULK LIKE WELL CATEGORIZED DATA. HULK LIKE PUBLIC HEALTH.
And my favourite code in the ICD10 manual:
V91.07XA: Burn due to water-skis on fire, initial encounter
Frankly, if you manage to set water-skis on fire, I’m not sure whether I want to give you a hi-five, a Darwin award, or video the whole thing for YouTube. I’m not even mad, that’s amazing.
While I make fun of the codes, they’re incredibly useful for public health and for collecting data. Knowing person, place and time, i.e. this idea of who is getting injured, where they’re hurting themselves and how can make all the difference when it comes to analyzing data and creating programs to prevent these injuries and illnesses from occurring. Whenever you present to a doctor, if they record the information that will allow for your ailments to be categorized using the ICD10 system, it goes a long way to helping researchers figure out what is going on at a macro, population level.