Of all the strange reasons to find yourself in the hospital, these are some of the strangest.
There’s a bunch of weird reasons people get checked into hospitals.
Fortunately, the medical profession is keeping up, and has now created codes for some of the stranger ways to end up with injuries, according to a CNN report.
A run-in with a sea lion, water skis catching on fire, or a squirrel bite are now classified in the medical code, and will now be represented accurate in medical system records.
In all, there are 137,000 ways to get injured or die that are now classified. That’s kind of a scary proposition, until you realize that nearly all of them are likely never to happen to you.
But this new classification system is important, especially when it comes to billing. It comes due to a requirement from the government, and it could change the way you’re billed, how long it takes to get insurance to approve certain procedures, and even the overall quality of care, according to the report.
Obamacare, after all, originally only impacted a few million people, but these changes will have an impact potentially for every single person who walks into — or is carted into — a hospital.
The medical community is a bit nervous about it, with some comparing it to Y2K, wondering if the system is capable of handling this mass influx of new classifications. But, then again, perhaps like Y2K it’s just a big overblown concern that the medical community will handle just fine.
It’s been a while since the codes changed, and that’s no small thing for doctors and health care professionals. The last time there was a major change in the codes, doctors had to spend a lot of extra time recording data, which can have a big impact on productivity.
Some of the new codes include a second lightning strike (not just the first, which has its own classification), a macaw bite, and even one for not just one attack but a second attack by a killer whale — even though there is only one recorded bite of a human by a wild orca in recorded history, back in 1972 when a Californian surfer had to get 100 stitches.
So why do doctors need such detailed codes anyway? For one thing, it helps with research: detailed medical data allows for medical professionals and scientists to spot trends as well as development treatments.
Or, it could help out government agencies like OSHA, who would have more specific information on how workplace injuries happen, and can develop strategies to prevent them, or update training for workers. It could change how buildings or cars are constructed, as designers would be able to see specifically that left food injuries are more common than right foot injuries in car accidents, for example, according to the CNN report.
The system may be due for an update anyway, as it was created in the 1970s. The new code is meant to improve on the severity of problems as well as any complications that come from it. It will also document the frequency and individual is hurt. This is extra detail the medical community didn’t have because the old codes didn’t go that far.
So there are benefits — but there may be significant downsides too. In fact, there are concerns that claims may get rejected because of coding errors, which could cost doctors out of pocket. Or, it could cost consumers.
At the very least, doctors and hospitals will need to open up their checkbooks for new staff training and computer software — not a cheap proposition whatsoever.
The medical community will certainly need some time to get used to all the changes. And another update may be coming soon, with the World Health Organization scheduled to revise the codes in 2017.
Medical coding goes back a long ways — all the way to the 17th century, in fact, when John Graunt, an English merchant, used parish death records to create the London Bills of Mortality. This was in order to understand the bubonic plague, and how it spread — something that was important to him because it could tell him how much his customer base was shrinking or expanding.
But as it turned out, this information was quite useful to the medical community as well, and they realized they need a more uniform system to handle that information. That’s where the famed Florence Nightingale comes in in the 19th century, a nurse who pushed for reform in the medical profession in order for patients to know whether they were getting the right treatments.
That bled over into the 20th century, when the League of Nations and later WHO created the codes we know today.