World Health Organization Releases ICD-11

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases, also known as ICD-11. The release has no impact on practicing coding professionals—and will not for an undetermined number of years, according to AHIMA coding experts.

The new release includes around 55,000 codes unique codes for injuries, diseases, and causes of death. According to a news release from the WHO, it will be presented at the World Health Assembly in May 2019 for adoption by member states, and will come into effect on January 1, 2022. However, Sue Bowman, MJ, RHIA, CCS, FAHIMA, says that the January 2022 date is just the earliest that is the earliest any country may implement ICD-11.

“It is being released now so that countries may begin preparing for implementation,” Bowman said. “As noted in the WHO announcement about the release, this is an advance preview to allow countries to begin their planning processes. For example, many countries need to translate it into their language, a process which takes time. There is no ‘deadline’ for countries to implement ICD-11. So just like with ICD-10, countries will implement at different times.”

Bowman stressed that it’s important to remember that the unmodified version of ICD-10 has been used for death certificate coding since 1999 in the United States, so the US may choose to adopt ICD-11 for this purpose earlier than for use by hospitals and other providers. But death certificate coding is not done by AHIMA members. It’s impossible to predict when the US might adopt the code set.

“The codes are alphanumeric and cover the range from 1A00.00 to ZZ9Z.ZZ,” Bowman added. “There are also extension codes that can be added to these codes. Extension codes cover additional information such as severity, more specific anatomic detail, and whether a condition was present on admission or not [this isn’t the complete list of the types of information extension codes cover, just examples]. It will be up to individual countries to decide to what extent they will use these extension codes.”

According to the WHO release, ICD-11 includes new codes, including one for a “gaming disorder,” which is controversial in mental health circles, as well as a new chapter on sexual health.

Mary Butler is the associate editor at Journal of AHIMA.

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