Funny ICD-10 Codes Have Ruined the ICD-10 Branding

Posted on October 17, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The people at online physician community, QuantiaMD, recently sent me a list of the top 3 “Crazy ICD-10 Codes” that they got from their community. It was quite interesting to learn that when they asked their community for these codes, they yielded double the participation the company typically sees. No doubt, physicians have globbed on to these funny and crazy ICD-10 codes. I’ll be honest. I’ve gotten plenty of laughs over some of the funny ICD-10 codes as well. Seriously, you can’t make some of this stuff up. Here’s a look at the top 3 crazy ICD-10 codes they received (and some awesome color commentary from the nominators):

1. W16.221 – Fall into bucket of water, causing drowning and submersion. I didn’t realize mopping the floor was so dangerous!
2. 7. Z63.1 – Problems in relationship with in-laws. Really, Who does not?
3. V9733xD – Sucked into jet engine, subsequent encounter. Oops I did it again.

While these codes are amazing and in many respects ridiculous, they’re so over the top that they’ve branded ICD-10 as a complete joke. For every legitimate story about the value of ICD-10 there have probably been 10 stories talking about the funny and crazy ICD-10 codes. You can imagine which story goes viral. Are you going to share the story that talks about improvement in patient care or the one that makes you laugh? How come the story about their being no ICD-9 code for Ebola hasn’t gone viral (Yes, ICD-10 has a code for Ebola)?

Unfortunately, I don’t think the proponents of ICD-10 have done a great job making sure that the dialog on the benefits of ICD-10 is out there as well. Yes, it’s an uphill battle, but most things of worth require a fight and can easily get drowned out by humor and minutiae if you give up. If ICD-10 really is that valuable, then it’s well worth the fight.

My fear is that it might be too late for ICD-10. Changing the ICD-10 brand that has been labeled as a joke is going to be nearly impossible to change. However, there are some key people on the side of ICD-10. CMS for starters. If you can get the law passed, then the ICD-10 branding won’t matter.

One thing I do know is that doing nothing means we’ll get more and more articles about Funny ICD-10 codes and little coverage of why ICD-10 needs to be implemented. I encourage those who see the value in ICD-10 to make sure their telling that part of the story. If you don’t have your own platform to share that part of the story, I’ll be happy to offer mine. Just drop me a note on my contact us page.