Clear up ICD-10-CM reporting for COVID-19-related drug misuse

Nov. 29, 2021 / By Sue Belley, RHIA

The drug ivermectin became a household name during the pandemic when some falsely believed it could prevent or treat COVID-19. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), current data available does not show ivermectin to be effective in preventing or treating COVID-19 in humans or animals. Clinical trials assessing the efficacy of ivermectin in treating COVID-19 are ongoing but have not been authorized or approved by the FDA.

Ivermectin is classified as a broad-spectrum antiparasitic agent. It can be administered orally in a pill format to treat conditions caused by an infestation of some parasitic worms or applied topically on the skin as a cream or lotion to treat some skin conditions such as rosacea and head lice for humans. Ivermectin is also used as an antiparasitic treatment in large animals and livestock. However, the concentration and composition of the drug when used to treat animals are different than the version used to treat humans. The animal version is more likely to be highly concentrated due to the significant size differences between livestock and humans, and it may contain different ingredients than the composition for human patients.

There have been reports of increased calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency departments from people who are self-medicating with the animal form of ivermectin to prevent and treat COVID-19. To avoid more misuse resulting in toxic, sometimes fatal, side effects, the FDA has issued a public service announcement cautioning the public not to use the animal form of ivermectin for humans. Further, they urge the public to fill a prescription for ivermectin through a legitimate source such as a pharmacy and to take it exactly as prescribed.

For a complete discussion of this topic, read the full article published in JustCoding.

Sue Belley, M.Ed., RHIA, CPHQ, is the manager of clinical content development and the manager of outsource services within the Consulting Services business of 3M Health Information Systems.

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