Medical Codes You’ll (Hopefully) Never Need

The world of medical coding is filled with useful, practical codes to help doctors quickly understand a patient’s injuries or ailments, and for hospitals to properly bill the medical insurance companies. The ICD-10 (the Tenth Edition of the International Classification of Diseases), which will be the system of coding that all those in the field must use, will eventually replace the ICD-9 system, increasing the number of codes from 13,000 to 68,000. Some of the more common ones include H40.003 for bilateral glaucoma, or B01 which covers chickenpox, but there are also some strangely specific codes out there.

While lobbyists have continued to delay the implementation of the World Health Organization defined system, it is an inevitability. The transition may be difficult for professionals in the field comfortable with ICD-9, and can be intimidating for those just entering the field, or pursuing a degree. But all of these new codes means the system is more specific, which in turn allows for a bit of fun. Read on for some of the more bizarre, unusual, and downright confusing medical codes, you’ll (hopefully) never need to use.

  • R46.1Bizarre personal appearance. A little judgmental, no?
  • T71.231Asphyxiation due to being trapped in a discarded refrigerator, accidental. This does sound terrifying for people with claustrophobia, but one has to wonder about the story behind needing this code.
  • V91.07Burn due to water-skis on fire. So many questions…
  • V96.00Unspecified balloon accident injuring occupant. The world of balloons is shrouded in mystery.
  • W22.02Hurt walking into a lamppost. Hopefully the people who live near you are more aware of their surroundings. I guess we can let them off the hook just once…
  • W22.02XDWalked into lamppost, subsequent encounter. Oh, come on. What did I just say!?
  • W53.21Bitten by squirrel, initial encounter. On the plus side, “Bitten by Squirrel” would be a rad band name.
  • W61.12Struck by macaw. My guess is the macaw was fed up with people trying to teach it the word ‘booger.’ Good on the macaw for self-defense.
  • Y34Unspecified event, undetermined intent. Thanks for the vivid description, Shakespeare.
  • Y92.146 Swimming-pool of prison as the place of occurrence of the external cause. Note to self: don’t splash the other convicts.
  • Y92.253Opera house as the place of occurrence of the external cause. That mosh pit must have been out of control!
  • Y93.D1Stabbed while crocheting. Probably the most dangerous hobby Nana has recently taken up.
  • Z89.419Acquired absence of unspecified great toe. It happens to the best of us.
  • Z99.89Dependence on other enabling machines and devices. A truly modern ailment.

Want more? Check out the ICD-10 illustrated book, inspired by W56.21XA: bitten by orca. They have playing cards and posters as well. Enjoy!

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