Whenever a patient leaves a medical facility after receiving any type of care or treatment, their services are translated into an alphanumerical code that is uniform across all healthcare facilities and providers. This makes it easier for providers to communicate about services with other healthcare entities, especially insurance providers. As a result, insurance providers can identify covered services with greater ease and efficiency, and patients can receive accurate bills for their medical treatment.
Medical coding can be an immensely difficult task, as coders need to be familiar with more than 10,000 unique codes. As a result, healthcare administrators who are certified in medical billing and coding can enjoy a comfortable salary and job security. While the process of translating services into codes can be exhaustive work, every so often billers and coders will encounter a rather funny situation that warrants some of the more underused codes. Some of these codes include:
Animals can behave unpredictably, which means all sorts of health complaints may be the result of interactions with non-human creatures. By far the most common health problems caused by animals are dog bites, as dogs are some of the most common animals in places with high populations of people. However, dogs certainly aren’t the only animals that need medical codes. Here are some of the most confusingly specific animal-related codes that billers and coders may encounter:
W56.12 — Struck by sea lion. Though sea lions are generally considered friendly and playful, they are rather large and can be quite territorial, especially in the wild, and because they are rather large, they can cause considerable damage if they choose to. People should avoid coming into contact with wild sea lions, especially when there are pups around.
W56.22XS — Struck by orca, sequela. Not many people come into physical contact with wild killer whales and live to tell the tale — especially twice, which is what “sequela” indicates — so this code is more frequently used for orca trainers or professional aquarists.
T63.621 — Toxic effect of contact with other jellyfish, accidental (unintentional). Most jellyfish have barbed, venomous stingers located in their tentacles, which help them catch and incapacitate prey while defending themselves from predators. Some people believe that the venom from more benign varieties of jellyfish can have positive effects, like fighting cancer or reducing inflammation, so it is important to distinguish between intentional jellyfish stings and accidental ones in medical codes.
People need to get from here to there, and in the modern world, there are dozens of different types of transportation to choose from. Unfortunately, some forms of transportation can be dangerous — like motorcycles, which result in the highest number of passenger fatalities. Yet, some codes related to modes of transportation beg an explanation of how they arose, such as:
V97.33 — Sucked into a jet engine. It’s hard to imagine this happening outside of a movie, but apparently “jet engine ingestion” as it is called has occurred dozens of times, with only one death.
W22.02 — Walked into lamp post. The most recent decade has seen a drastic rise in the number of pedestrians suffering minor and major injuries like this one, and experts believe that smartphones are to blame. Healthcare providers strongly recommend standing still or sitting while using a smartphone to avoid whacking oneself on a lamp post — or suffering a worse fate, like wandering into traffic.
Everyone needs a hobby, but hopefully that hobby doesn’t result in injury or disease that necessitates medical intervention. There are hobbies that are notoriously dangerous, like scuba diving, mountain climbing, parachuting and the like, and there are certainly codes associated with these. However, medical billers and coders might less frequently employ the following curious hobby-related codes:
V91.07 — Burn due to water skis on fire. Water skis are supposed to be used in rather moist environments, which are unlikely to ignite into flame. Yet, it seems that at least one unfortunate soul has caught their water skis on fire and suffered burns as a result.
Y92.241 — Library as the place of occurrence of the external cause. Libraries aren’t known as places where one might be in physical peril, and yet there are plenty of different kinds of injuries that can happen in libraries. One might receive cuts from sharp pages, abrasions from falling books or more serious injuries from toppling shelves or dangerous library machinery. Library workers are more likely to require this code, as they can endure repetitive motions that result in tissue damage, but perhaps one should keep their head on a swivel when they retrieve their next library holds.
Medical coding is a relatively unknown field within healthcare — and it is an undeniably vital one. Anyone can become certified as a medical coder and learn more of the fascinating and funny codes available for use.
The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.