As part of the process of transitioning to the ICD-10 code set for outpatient diagnosis coding, the committee responsible for maintaining the ICD-10 and the current ICD-9 code sets in the United States announced it is putting a partial freeze on the codes before implementing ICD-10 on Oct. 1, 2013.
The ICD-9-CM Coordination and Maintenance Committee announced during a regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 15 that it was suspending regular updates to the ICD code sets to ease the industry's transition to ICD-10.
The partial freeze calendar looks like this:
- Oct. 1, 2011: The last annual updates to ICD-9-CM and ICD-10 code sets will be instituted.
- Oct. 1, 2012: Limited code updates to ICD-9 and ICD-10 will be allowed only to capture new technologies and diseases.
- Oct. 1, 2013: Limited code updates to ICD-10 will be granted to capture new technologies and diseases.
- Oct. 1, 2013: ICD-9 will cease to exist for purposes of reporting.
- Oct. 1, 2014: Regular updates to ICD-10 resume.
The freeze has been dubbed "partial" to allow for the creation of codes needed to capture new technologies and diseases. For example, new codes were necessary when the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus pandemic arose in 2009.
Cynthia Hughes, C.P.C., an AAFP coding specialist, said the freeze was welcome news for the volumes of people training in ICD-10 protocol, particularly because the number of diagnosis codes will balloon from 14,315 in ICD-9-CM to 69,099 in ICD-10.
"There is now a sense of stability knowing the codes will be frozen for a period of time so that physicians, coders, nurses, billers and software developers have time to get familiar with this greatly expanded system," said Hughes.