I’ve got a new hobby — collecting ICD-10 codes. Okay, it’s more than a hobby; I’ve gotten a little obsessed with it lately. There have been a lot of complaints about the complexity and number of different codes but I find myself daydreaming about a chance to meet the people who came up with the listings.
I imagine a conference room where six people are locked inside with an endless supply of coffee and bananas, told they will be freed only when they have completed their task. For the first 12 hours, they write listings for broken arms and heart conditions, post traumatic stress disorder and amnesia. But 36 sleepless hours and 500 cups of coffee later, they start coming unglued.
“Water skis!” someone yells. “What if they catch on fire?!” A bespectacled man in a three-day-old suit quickly scribbles down “Burn due to water skis on fire, initial encounter: V91.07XA.”
“But what about the subsequent encounter?” a bleary-eyed woman asks from the banana table. “Let’s make that one V91.07XD,” he says, grabbing his pen and adding it to the list.
Two days later, they’re still at it.
“Someone could get hit by a turtle,” says a man now wearing his tie around his head. “Yeahhhh,” responds a woman staring blankly at the wall. “That’s a thing. It could happen.” “W59.22XA: Struck by turtle, initial encounter,” the scribe writes with a banana.
“What about –”
“W59.22XD is the subsequent encounter,” he replies, taking a bite out of his pen.
Which is how, I figure, we ended up with such gems as:
- V80.730A: Animal-rider injured in collision with trolley
- W49.01XA: Hair causing external constriction
- W22.02XD: Walked into lamppost (disclaimer – I have done this more than once)
- Y93.D1: Stabbed while crocheting
- X52: Prolonged stay in weightless environment
- V95.41XA Spacecraft crash injuring occupant, initial encounter
- Y92.250: Art gallery as the place of occurrence of the external cause
Comedic medicine owes a lot to this dedicated team of ICD-10 pioneers. I may never know their names but I imagine they survived their ordeal unscathed as there is no ICD-10 code relating to injuries from a banana.
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