Health Information Management

Tip: Build a foundation for ¬ICD-10-CM coding

APCs Insider, November 22, 2013

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Placeholders are a new concept in ­ICD-10-CM. ICD-10-CM codes can be up to seven characters in length. The seventh character usually denotes the encounter.

However, not all ICD-10-CM codes that require a seventh character have six other characters in the code. The code may be four or five characters long. In order for the seventh character to show up in the seventh position in the code, coders must add placeholders, represented by the letter X. For example, consider these codes:

  • W64.XXXA, exposure to other animate mechanical forces, initial encounter
  • W73.XXXD, other specified cause of ­accidental non-transport drowning and submersion, ­subsequent encounter
  • W85.XXXS, exposure to electric transmission lines, sequela

 Without the placeholder(s), the code is invalid.

This tip is adapted from “Build a foundation for ICD-10-CM coding” in the November issue of Briefings on APCs



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