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Feeling Better About ICD-10

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 13, 2012
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5. Detailed data on injuries, accidents
One of the most interesting potential quality improvement elements of ICD-10 is what it reveals about injuries, such as where they occur, what part of the body was injured, and what implements were used, alerting providers to common dangers. For example, there are nine codes to describe mishaps involving baby strollers, such as a fall or collision with a stationary object.

How specific? There's a code for an injury involving digging with a shovel. There are codes to identify injuries due to toxic effects from ingesting fiberglass, being injured by a lamppost, or being burned while on water skis. And there are copious codes to identify injuries involving non-human animals, including 14 for mishaps involving a horse.

6. Tracking of healthcare-associated conditions
The ICD-10 code allows much greater explanation and accountability for adverse events that can occur within healthcare institutions.

For example, there are at least 50 categories for a foreign object, whether the patient came in with it or not. And if a fall or other mishap occurred within a hospital, the location is specified as the bathroom, cafeteria, corridor, operating room, or patient's room.

7. Specifies procedures by degree of difficulty
The new codes allow certain procedures to be subdivided by difficulty. Bowman says that under ICD-9, there is only one code for artery suture, but in ICD-10, there are 195: Four different approaches and 67 possible arteries. Though some are far more difficult than others, under the current code set, they are all lumped together.

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