Getting ready for fall? Or did you take a fall?

Oct. 4, 2019 / By Cecilia Charles, RHIA

The summer months have passed us by and autumn is here which means flu and cold season is upon us. But wait, we are just beginning to heal from the activities of summer! Those of us in the coding field have read about many different types of injuries and accidents that can occur over the summer months. Many outpatient coders are exposed to Emergency Room documentation records that have either given them a chuckle, caused them to cringe or provided education on what not to do.

It doesn’t particularly matter if you spend most of your time indoors or outdoors, we are all prone to injuries and accidents. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported cases from physician office visits for unintentional injuries are 39.5 million, while reported numbers of emergency department visits for unintentional injuries are 29.2 million.

How many of us have really read the ICD-10-CM chapter 20 External causes of morbidity? These are not primary codes, but secondary to a code from another chapter to identify the external cause. We normally see accidents and injuries such as falling, tripping, overexposure, etc., but there are many more that capture other types of injuries. What simple tasks have you performed that have resulted in injury? If you watch television, you may happen to see a commercial from an insurance plan which depicts reported injuries encountered by their enrollees. These injuries/accidents range from minor to severe and are usually delivered in a very comical way, but are by no means funny, especially if you are the victim.

Below are a few examples that have been illustrated in commercials. These are “normal” things that we do without any intention of accident/injury. How many have you experienced?

  • Having planned a destination wedding on the beach and opted for the use of bird seed in a ceremonial send-off, you and your guests may have experienced an attack by a swarm of birds (W61.92 XA Struck by other birds).
  • Pole vaulting with a pool strainer to entertain the neighbors (Y93.57 Activity, non-running track and field events).
  • Reaching for a bubble bath bottle and over-extending your body (W18.82XXA Fall in (into) shower or empty bathtub).
  • Walking downtown without paying attention and landing in an open manhole (W17.1XXA Accidental fall into storm drain or manhole)?
  • Do you just love the movie, Dirty Dancing? Maybe you have tried and failed that iconic move of leaping in air into the arms of your partner (Y93.41 Activity, dancing)?
  • If yoga is your thing, an improper yoga pose could result in injury (Y93.42 Activity, yoga).
  • What about dancing on coffee table for that movie star effect (W08.XXXA Fall from other furniture)?
  • Been horseback riding on a dream vacation only to be thrown off (Y93.57 Activity, Horseback riding)?
  • Tried bouncing on the neighbor’s trampoline (Y93.44 Activity, Trampolining)?

Some of the above activities are somewhat common (others not so much), but all can easily cause you to be out of commission for a while. The goal is to practice safety at all times. This fall, let’s be careful in the rain, sleet and snow (W00.9XXA Unspecified fall due to ice and snow). Even the simplest of everyday activities can result in injury. Don’t let your injury be the inspiration for a new health insurance commercial.

Cecilia Charles is a clinical development analyst at 3M Health Information Systems.

What makes an effective coding quality program?