As news and updates regarding the recent outbreak of novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is circulating all over the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) on January 31, 2020, declared the new coronavirus as a global emergency. Even though the outbreak of nCoV started from the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei Province, the virus seems to be spreading and causing a risk outside China which is threatening the whole world. The latest petrifying new virus caused a partial or full lockdown of 56 million people in China, disrupted travel plans around the globe and sparked a run on medical masks from Wuhan, Hubei Province, to Bryan, Texas (nytimes.com). Accurate diagnosis and medical coding of this virus infection is vital, which requires the coder to have a clear idea regarding the related medical terms and coding guidelines. Infectious diseases caused by nCoV must be clearly documented using the correct medical codes. Experienced outsourcing companies that provide medical billing services can provide the required support to physicians treating this condition.

According to the WHO, infectious diseases are caused by pathogenic micro organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi; the diseases can be spread, directly or indirectly, from one person to another. Sometimes these infectious diseases cause an outbreak, which is a sudden increase in occurrences of a disease at a particular time and place. The United States also has witnessed several epidemics over the course of its history.

Here are some of the significant outbreaks US has seen and their ICD-10 codes:

  • Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) – 2019

    As mentioned above, the new coronavirus is the latest scary virus that is causing an outbreak. Even though this virus originated in China, it has spread through much of the world which made WHO declare it as a global public health emergency. The same day the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first case of person-to-person transmission of the virus in the country unrelated to travel to China (bbc.com).

    According to CNN, at least 213 people are dead and more than 9,709 cases have been confirmed in mainland China, as the virus spreads globally. The new virus belongs to the large family of coronaviruses that cause illnesses such as the common cold, and more severe diseases such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). However, it did not match any other known virus. This has raised serious concern because when a new virus appears, the severity of its effect on people cannot be generally understood or measured.

    Billing and coding for this infectious disease could be complex as there are several rules related to reporting the condition correctly. ICD-10 codes used to signify nCoV diagnosis are –

    • B34.2 – Coronavirus infection, unspecified
    • B97.2 – Coronavirus as the cause of diseases classified elsewhere
      • B97.21 – SARS-associated coronavirus as the cause of diseases classified elsewhere
      • B97.29 – Other coronavirus as the cause of diseases classified elsewhere
  • Zika Virus-(2015 -2016)

    This virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes, which bite during the day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015 and 2016, large outbreaks of Zika virus occurred in the Americas, resulting in an increase in travel-associated cases in US states, widespread transmission in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and limited local transmission in Florida and Texas.

    ICD-10 code for Zika Virus is:

    • A92.5 – Zika virus
  • Ebola – 2014

    The Ebola virus is a group of viruses that cause a deadly kind of hemorrhagic fever (means it causes bleeding inside and outside the body). The virus has a long incubation period of approximately 8 to 21 days. Early symptoms include fever, muscle weakness, sore throat and headaches. However, the virus is transmitted through contact with blood or secretions from an infected person, either directly or through contaminated surfaces, needles or medical equipment.

    ICD-10 code for Ebola Virus is:

    • A98.4 – Ebola virus disease
  • Swine Flu – 2009

    Also known as 2009 H1N1 type A influenza, swine flu is a human disease that exhibits symptoms similar to the regular flu. Swine flu is caused by a strain of influenza virus that usually only infects pigs. But in humans, transmission usually occurs from person to person, not animal to person. Most U.S. cases of H1N1 swine flu have been in children and young adults. An epidemic of influenza-like illness of indefinite causation occurred in Mexico in March–April 2009. In 2009, the ongoing outbreak of Influenza A/H1N1, commonly referred to as “swine flu”, was officially declared by the WHO to be the first influenza pandemic of the 21st century and a new strain of Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 was first identified in April 2009.

    ICD 10 Code for swine flu is:

    • J09.X2 – Influenza due to identified novel influenza A virus with other respiratory manifestations
  • HIV/AIDS – 1980s

    HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which is the final stage of HIV and the 6th leading cause of death in the United States among people 25 to 44 years old.
    First documented in 1981, HIV is passed through bodily fluids, including blood transfusions, use of needles, sexual contact or from a pregnant woman to her child.

    ICD 10 code for HIV is

    • B20 – Human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] disease
  • Smallpox – 1600s

    One of the killer outbreaks introduced to the Americas by Europeans in the late 1660s was smallpox. This deadly disease dropped the population of Native Americans from 100 million to just 5-10 million. Caused by the Variola Virus, this disease was commonly spread through direct contact with an infected person’s skin or body fluids. It can also be airborne.

    The ICD-10 code is:

    • B03 – Smallpox

However, these are some of the outbreaks; there are some other diseases such as Yellow fever, Cholera, Scarlet fever, Diphtheria, Second measles, Polio, Malaria, Typhoid and so on that had caused huge outbreaks to spread across the United States.

When faced with increasing cases of epidemics, doctors and other healthcare professionals in clinics and hospitals would be engaged in rendering care, making arrangements for isolating patients with communicable diseases, improving infrastructure at the facility, and making the required changes to the treatment when required. The documentation responsibilities, which are very important for legal reasons and also for doctors and healthcare facilities to get paid for the services rendered, could fall short of accuracy. Avoid such circumstances by taking support from reliable medical billing companies and ensure accurate billing, which is indispensable for timely and appropriate reimbursement.