Five things to know about the 2021 ICD-10-CM updates

It’s been quite a year for clinical terminology, with the need for new medical coding terms never seeming to stop. Whether clinicians are documenting complexities related to COVID-19 or describing electric scooter mishaps, the latest updates to ICD-10-CM are here to help. Below, we take a look at five interesting changes to the standardized coding system that went into effect on the first of October.

In 2020, we’ve had no shortage of new medical situations to document, starting with the vaping crisis and extending through to the current COVID-19 pandemic. But, that’s not all. The annual changes to ICD-10-CM have a host of interesting – and sometimes amusing – code updates for the coming year. Here are some highlights:

  1. This year, 490 codes will be added to the ICD-10-CM. Additionally, 58 will be deleted and 47 will get revisions. Overall, that makes for a whopping 72,616 codes in the upcoming release – that’s over 3,000 codes added in the last five years.
  2. Unsurprisingly, U-codes were major players in this year’s changes. This section is used when emergency code additions to the manual are needed. This year, two main additions were released, and became effective April 1. Code U07.0 covers vaping-related disorders, while Code U07.1 represents COVID-19. The ICD Coordination and Maintenance Committee is currently considering adding five more codes relating to COVID-19 in an off-cycle release, which would potentially be available in January 2021. Public comments on the codes can be submitted through October 9, 2020.
  3. Without a doubt, 2020 is the year when working from bed became more than acceptable, and for some, it became the norm. Whether it’s during a mid-day catnap, or after a workday that blends into bedtime, enough of us are now falling asleep in our contacts that we got our very own ICD-10-CM entry. Code Y77.11 – contact lens associated with adverse incident – is now there to capture any infections or other eye injuries resulting from contact lens use (or misuse).
  4. And, in case two major health crises weren’t enough for the year, several ICD-10-CM changes reflect the fact that the opioid crisis is still a serious problem throughout the United States. Codes T40.41-, T40.42-, and T40.49- represent poisoning by, adverse effect of, and underdosing of: fentanyl or fentanyl analogs, tramadol, and other synthetic narcotics, respectively.
  5. Finally, the ICD-10-CM has some vindication for those of us terrified of being injured by the electric scooters popping up on street corners across the country. Whether you’re a pedestrian on foot or you’re the one operating a scooter, hoverboard, or Segway, a new crop of codes will be available in the 2021 update to describe the cause of injuries arising from using these pedestrian conveyances.

For a deeper and more comprehensive breakdown of all of the updates to the ICD-10-CM that took effect on October 1, be sure to check out our on-demand webinar, ICD-10-CM 2021 updates and regulatory readiness, featuring IMO’s coding experts June Bronnert, MSHI, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, Theresa Rihanek, MHA, RHIA, CCS, and Julie Glasgow, MD.

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