Follow-up: July Coding Challenge on Ebola

Since writing about coding of the Ebola virus disease in ICD-9 and ICD-10 for last month’s Coding Challenge, an interesting conundrum has come to light that I want to share with you.

It turns out there are two different codes that can be assigned to Ebola virus disease in ICD-9 depending on the way Ebola is located in the ICD-9 Alphabetic Index.

First, index Infection→virus→Ebola to locate code 065.8, Other specified arthropod—borne hemorrhagic fever.

Second, index Infection→Ebola to find code 078.89, Other specified diseases due to viruses.

Upon a request for clarification from AHIMA, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed that the correct ICD-9-CM code is 078.89. This helps to clear up confusion about which ICD-9-CM code should be assigned today.

Just like code 065.8 lacks the specificity to clearly identify Ebola as discussed in my last blog, so does code 078.89! In ICD-10, however, code A98.4, Ebola virus disease, will allow for unequivocal identification of this deadly disease.

Sue Belley is a Project Manager with the Consulting Services business of 3M Health Information Systems.

2 responses to “Follow-up: July Coding Challenge on Ebola

  1. Sharon Dooley RN, CCS-P

    Arthropods include spiders and other insects with exoskeletons which can bite. Ebola seems to be spread by contacts with infected animals involving fluids or flesh from those animals such as squirrels or bats, so it seems to me that the question of arthropod borne disease should not be a consideration. Please advise if I am confused.

    • Your comment is a correct one. That is the reason why the CDC confirmed the correct ICD-9-CM code for Ebola virus disease is 078.89, and not the code for arthropod borne hemorrhagic fever.

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