Thursday, June 11, 2015

ICD-10 Codes: Bizarre, Outrageous, & Absurd. But ‘Funny?’ I don’t think so.

(What's the ICD-10 Code for "Idiotitis?")

Show of hands: who thinks a child drowning is funny?

Hopefully you don’t think so. Yet just recently the ICD-10 code for drowning in a bucket of water was labeled “funny” by – wait for this – someone connected to medical coding services - a company called Medical Billers and Coders. 

Why is this? Why do seemingly intelligent people who should know better insist on publicly displaying such crass ignorance? And why would a company that makes its living by providing medical coding services take such a tack?

Here’s what this company posted last month on YouTube.

And when I called them out on it via the YouTube comments and a tweeet, this was the reply via their Twitter account

@ShimCode None of the injuries are funny but having codes for such uncommon injuries is something that we were targeting here.

There’s a Better Way

Unfortunately this company is not alone with thinking tragic, real life events are “funny.” There have been many firms and people calling out child drownings as "bizzare," funny," and "hysterical." I wrote a post about such idiocy a while ago.

If you want to make fun of ICD-10, I suggest you take an approach like The Happy Hospitalist took in his post titled “Funny ICD-10.2 Codes Never Before Discovered.”

For instance:

Abdominal Pain In The ER, Not Exacerbated By Big Mac Brought In By Baby Daddy

Any Injury Due To Less Than 1/10 of an Inch of Snow; Atlanta, Georgia

Know This All You Budding Comedians

If you're still desperately searching for some reason to make fun of ICD-10, consider reading Richard Averill’s post on “Why the U.S. actually needs those crazy ICD-10 codes."

Then maybe you will rethink your need to somehow bash ICD-10 at the expense of people who have lost loved ones to drowning.


  1. Steve, I appreciate the stance that we are talking about MEDICAL coding, and medical situations are not a laughing matter. However, I-10 does go into the land of obscurity and frankly, we've been working on it so long that people need the comic relief to survive. :-)
    I believe the real issue here is that many of these codes go beyond a diagnosis/procedure and try to capture the activity that caused the injury. There is no way to have an exhaustive list of activities that can cause injury’s and the specific ones chosen to represent in I-10 are… interesting. I know the I-10 train has left the station, but ideally we would have a separate activity/cause of injury field that is required for Doctors to capture and attach to EMR and Claim record rather than confusing an already complex set.

  2. Steve that video post you are talking about meant to be a source of humor regarding ICD-10. They recognizes that these situations can be serious and does not intend any offense towards those who may suffer them.


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