Understanding the Uses of Medical ‘Codes’

April  2023

   The last couple of months, I have written columns giving you my take on the “National Month of...”  

   For April, there are several worthy considerations like Child Abuse Prevention, Alcoholism, Autism and Parkinson’s Disease.  These seemed like pretty hot topics that I know I would not be able to do justice to in a column this size.  Whole books are written on these topics and oftentimes don’t cover enough angles to be satisfactory.  I am always happy to review what I know at an individual level.  This topic is probably not that much easier, nor something that I am an expert in, but I wanted to cover a topic that I have received quite a few calls about this past month.  Those questions are about ICD coding.  

   ICD is short for International Classification of Diseases.  Currently, the medical world is using the 11th revision which was adopted in 2022.  In the world of standardized medicine and insurance, ICD coding has become sacrosanct.  Without it, nothing happens.  It makes one wonder how anything got done prior to its adoption.  If one is particularly interested, there are histories written in longer form but some method of disease classification has been used for more than 120 years.  In its most innocent use, it classifies diseases into categories that physicians can us ...

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