ICD-10 Codes: Struck by a Turtle, Injured by a Spacecraft

The ninth edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9) had about 18,000 codes that described all the possible ailments and accidents for which medical services could be billed. The current ICD-10 contains a sizable increase in codes, which now number 140,000. Those who have had some time to work with the expanded categories cannot help noticing there is some hilarity in the new categories, leaving one to wonder what the developers of the ICD-10 were thinking.

Those involved playing in symphonies now have double protection, as new ICD 10 coding includes one code for Opera House Injuries and a separate code for Injured while Playing a Brass Instrument. Depending on how they look, brass players may even qualify under Bizarre Personal Appearance.

Do you or someone you know enjoy crafts? Now you can participate in your favorite activities knowing that if you are injured your insurance company will be properly billed, thanks to the codes Injured while Knitting and Injured while Crocheting.

The ICD-10 also includes around 70 codes for injuries related to birds. Some of these may be particularly appropriate around Thanksgiving, such as Struck by Turkey – Initial Encounter. There are similar codes for ducks, chickens, parrots, and geese. And if you are injured in a chicken coop don’t worry, there is a code for that too. Speaking of animals, your insurance company will also be able to be billed appropriately if you are crushed by an alligator, struck by a turtle, or even struck by a turtle multiple times.

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In case you find some of these classifications bewildering, one of the main medical billing and coding websites released a document purportedly obtained through the Freedom of Information Act to show proposed codes for claims resulting from UFO encounters, alien abductions, and extra-terrestrial probes. However readers should keep in mind this was released on April 1st.

All jokes aside however, there are codes for space vehicle collisions, injuries resulting from encounters with spacecraft, and claims stemming from prolonged exposure in a weightless environment.

And aside from outer space there are even more baffling codes involving the water. Although unlikely to happen in the same place, there is a code for being bitten by a whale and a code for being injured in a prison swimming pool. And water skiers need not worry; if your water skies catch fire and burn you there is a code for that too.

For those of us who are not attentive to our surroundings or easily distracted: although there are not yet codes such as Injured while Texting or Cellphone Distracted Driving, there is the code Injured Walking into Lamp Post – Initial Encounter, and Injured Walking into Lamp Post – Second Encounter.

And finally there is a question whether the actual designers of the IDC-10, also known as I10, were having some fun of their own; this also happens to be the same code for high blood pressure. Two insurance claims involving sex changes end in N0K1 and M0J0. Coding for certain drainage devices end in the characters 00Z.

Although not usually considered to be comedians, medical billing and coding professionals are still capable of finding some of the lighter sides of their profession.