The Weirdest Medical Billing Codes
October 23, 2015
A few years ago, the medical profession was shocked when the federal government made big changes to the system of codes that describe medical services. The biggest change was in the sheer number of codes. The ICD-9-CM (International Classification of Diseases) system had about 18,000 codes. Its successor, ICD-10, has over 140,000! A good medical billing program will train its students in how to efficiently work with this new system. But if you walk through the billing center of a doctor’s office or hospital, you may hear some giggling because the new codes can get pretty specific.
Many of these codes suggest that some patients simply have bad luck. But some codes demonstrate just how bad luck can get. Here’s a list of a few, from bad to worse.
- Falling from or into toilet (W18.1)
- Walked into a lamppost, initial encounter (W22.02XA)
- Walked into lamppost, subsequent encounter (W22.02XD)
- Exposure to tornado (X37.1XXA)
- Spacecraft collision injuring participant (V95.43)
A surprising number of the new codes make the medical profession seem like that old reality show, When Animals Attack. It makes total sense that there is a code for getting bitten by a dog (W54.0XXA) or struck by a horse (W55.12). Others are harder to imagine.
- Struck by bird (W61.92)
- Struck by orca (W56.22XA)
- Struck by turtle (W59.22)
- Struck by dog (W54.1)
- Struck by pig (W55.42)
- Crushed by alligator (W5803XA)
It’s also not surprising to learn that many codes describe sports injuries, like getting struck by a golf ball (W21.04) or soccer ball (W21.02). But some sports related injuries are downright random.
- Struck by sports footwear (W21.3)
- Burn injury due to water skis on fire (V91.07XA)
Some of the work related codes reflect America’s culture of hard work.
- Discord with boss and workmates (Z56.4)
- Type A personality (Z732)
- Lack of relaxation and leisure ( Z73.2)
Others describe people you hope you never have to work with.
- Bizarre personal appearance (R46.1)
- Very low level of personal hygiene (R46.0)
You have to marvel at the crazy specificity of these codes, as if the government were attempting to catalog every injury imaginable. And some remain downright unimaginable. It’s hard to picture the scenario that resulted in a medical coder needing “chicken coop as the place of occurrence of the external cause” (Y92.72).
In any case, the right medical billing program will prepare its students for any coding contingency, no matter how specific or random.