Revered by critics and audiences as the “master of suspense,” Alfred Hitchcock was the toast of Tinseltown Los Angeles in the mid-20th century. He worked with the biggest stars of the day (like Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, and James Stewart) and created movies that shocked audiences with their style and edge.
His delight in the dark and macabre didn’t bode well for the subjects of his films, however, who faced unimaginable physiological and psychological horrors during their time on the silver screen. But Hitchcock’s flair for unequaled aesthetics and innovation with the camera made even the grimmest acts look majestic for moviegoers—people couldn’t look away even when they desperately wanted to. Hitchcock’s films continue to influence filmmakers and pop culture today.
Below, in honor of the AHIMA Convention visiting the home of Hollywood, we salute one of its greatest directors by examining just how a coding professional would approach documenting the grisly aftermath of four of Hitchcock’s highly-regarded and groundbreaking films.
A coastal northern California town inexplicably becomes besieged by bloodthirsty birds looking to peck away at any human within the reach of their beak. Their attacks cause both direct and indirect carnage.
- Pecked by a bird—W61.99XA, Other contact with other birds
- Eyes gouged by sharp object (or animal/beak)—S05.60XA, Penetrating wound without foreign body of unspecified eyeball (This doesn’t indicate how the injury was done—you’d assign this with W61.99XA to show that)
- Burned by gasoline fire—Burn injury: T30.0, Burn of unspecified body region, unspecified degree; Injury caused by fire: X08.8XXA, Exposure to other specified smoke, fire and flames
On the run after stealing from her employer, a woman decides to stop for a rest, and a shower, at the Bates Motel—operated by the ultimate mama’s boy, Norman Bates.
- Stabbed with knife—X99.1XXA, Assault by knife
- Knocked unconscious—R40.20, Unconsciousness; Y04.2XXA, Assault by strike against or bumped into by another person
- Delusional psychosis/multiple personality disorder—F22, Delusional disorder; F44.81, Multiple personality disorder
An acrophobic detective on leave after his fear of heights accidently leads to the death of a fellow officer is employed by a friend to investigate his strange wife—only to become obsessed with her. Twists, turns, and mental torture unfold from there.
- Fall from high height—W17.89XA, Fall from one level to another
- Near drowning—T75.1XXA, Drowning (near); Injury caused by drowning: W74.XXXA, Drowning
- Nervous breakdown—F48.8
- Clinical depression, catatonic state—F32.9, Depression; R40.1, Catatonic stupor
Rear Window (1954):
Confined to a wheelchair after breaking his leg, a photographer passes the time by spying on his New York City neighbors from his window—and soon becomes convinced one of them committed murder.
- Broken leg—S82.90XD, Fracture of unspecified leg, subsequent encounter
- Confined to wheelchair—Z74.09
- Temporarily blinded by bright light—H53.129, Transient visual loss, unspecified eye
- Dismembered by hack saw—X99.8XXA, Assault by sharp object; S48.911A, Complete traumatic amputation of right shoulder and upper arm, level unspecified; S48.912A, Complete traumatic amputation of left shoulder & upper arm, level unspecified; S88.911A, Complete traumatic amputation of right lower leg, level unspecified; S88.912A, Complete traumatic amputation of left lower leg, level unspecified