Friday, July 20, 2012

Code for the Day

I wish I had a humorous and witty code for the day, but I'm just not feeling that chipper this morning.  I did say that my codes for the day would be inspired by my daily life.  And today's inspiration is drawn from the terrible tragedy at a movie theater not to far from me here in the suburbs of Denver.  While I'm not the type to go to a midweek midnight showing of the latest movie, I am the type of person who has friends who are the type to go to a midweek midnight showing of the latest movie.  I am happy to report that those friends who are "most likely to" have checked in on Facebook this morning.  But there are many who weren't so lucky and my heart goes out to them and their families.

A quick recap in case you haven't seen any news today - a man apparently burst into a packed movie theater and threw some gas canisters into the crowd and waited for them to explode before opening fire on the defenseless audience.  At this time, it sounds like 12 are dead and many others are being treated at Denver's various trauma centers.  

So today's code for the day came to mind as I was listening to the news and a PR statement from a local hospital where some people were treated.  I was paying particular attention because I used to work at this hospital.  And when the spokesperson said they weren't sure what kind of gas was in the canisters, but it was a type of tear gas or something similar and people are being treated for eye irritation and burns, my first thought was - how awful and my second thought was there's a unique ICD-10 code for chemical  burns.  Sorry, I just can't turn off the coder inside!

In ICD-10-CM, we have newly divided burn codes - those for thermal burns and those for corrosion.  I don't know about you, but I think this distinction is a long time coming.  Like burns, corrosions are also classified by depth, or degree of the chemical burn as first, second, or third degree.  So for example, let's say someone was admitted with second degree chemical burns to the face.  This is coded as:
  • T20.60xA, Corrosion of second degree of head, face, and neck, unspecified site, initial encounter
So I ask you - as you do your daily coding, do your physicians document degrees of severity on chemical burns?  

I hope everyone has a safe and happy weekend and let's hope next week's inspiration comes from something happier.