Putting ICD Updates on Ice

One step to help the industry make the transition to ICD-10-CM/PCS will be temporarily suspending updates to the code set as the October 2013 deadline gets closer.

Freezing both the current ICD-9-CM and the new ICD-10-CM/PCS code sets will save organizations further cost and complexity by enabling them to focus on the system change without simultaneously managing code updates. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been receiving recommendations on whether to freeze the code sets and, if so, for how long.

In a recently released statement, AHIMA recommends that:

  • The final ICD-9-CM update should be FY 2012 (beginning October 2011, in conjunction with the federal government’s fiscal year).
  • No updates should be made to ICD-10-CM/PCS for FY 2013 or FY 2014 (i.e., beginning October 2012).
  • Updates to ICD-10-CM/PCS should resume in FY 2015 (October 2014).

Freezing code sets presents its own challenges, given that the practice of medicine will keep evolving. AHIMA recommends that exceptions should be allowed for urgently needed codes. Organizations requesting updates would be required to make a “clear and convincing” case to the Coordination and Maintenance Committee as to why the codes can’t wait for the next regularly scheduled update (such as the emergence of a new disease).

AHIMA recommends that the Coordination and Maintenance Committee, which maintains the code sets in the US, should continue to meet during the freeze in order to consider code proposals and avoid a backlog in 2014. “Working draft addenda” could keep the industry appraised of code changes slated to go into effect for FY 2015.

In addition, AHIMA recommends that flexibility be retained during the freeze to correct errors identified in the ICD-10-CM/PCS code sets, such as incorrect index entries or incorrect code references in instructional notes.

AHIMA offers ICD-10 information and resources at www.ahima.org/icd10.

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