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Classifying is a first-level analytical initiative, a rudimentary tool for the intellect to understand its environment. Efforts to classify diseases were predated by the attempt to understand and statistically report the causes of death in the Seventeenth Century. These efforts continued in various forms through the work of the International Statistical Institute culminating in the 1893 adoption of the International List of Causes of Death. Healthcare experts then recognized the value in developing standard nomenclature to describe nonfatal diseases, and a parallel list was adopted in 1909. In 1910, the U.S. Department of Commerce translated the second revision of the list into the International Classification of Causes of Sickness and Death.


In 1948, the World Health Assembly adopted the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the sixth revision. The seventh and eighth revisions of the newly named International Classification of Diseases (ICD) occurred in 1955 and 1965, the decade ICD was used increasingly for indexing hospital medical records. The ICD-9 code set was adopted in 1975 and implemented in 1979.

Identifying and classifying disease has been an important discipline underlying the growth of science. The ability to isolate variables is essential to differentiating, diagnosing, understanding and treating disease on both an individual and a population basis. It has been more than 30 years since the last update; the conversion is long overdue.


ICD-10 was first adopted by WHO in 1990 and came into use internationally in 1994. The United States is the last major international participant to make this conversion. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) adopted ICD-10, which has been continuously revised by WHO since 1994, in January 2009 and published the code set for use in the United States as ICD-10-CM (Clinical Modification) for diagnosis coding and ICD-10-PCS (Procedure Code Set) for inpatient hospital procedure coding. ICD-10-CM or ICD-10-PCS/CM can be used to refer to both code sets.

ICD-10-CM is maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. ICD-10-PCS is maintained by CMS.

Physicians will not bill for their services under ICD-10, continuing rather to use the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) code set.

For more information, see Philip Ronning's "ICD-10: Obligations and Opportunities," hfm, August 2011.

Publication Date: Monday, August 01, 2011

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