Illustration for article titled Struck By a Duck: The Strangest Codes in the US Medical Billing System

When you go to the doctor, there’s a medical code that determines how your treatment gets billed. Getting treated for urban rabies? Well, that’s distinct from woods-based sylvatic rabies, and your invoice will reflect that. Until today, the system in the US was the same one we used in the 1970s. But there’s a new catalog of ailments, and some of it is weird as hell.


Doctors in the US will now bill according to the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10). The updated code is an exhaustive malady roadmap for medical billing. Some of it is the same as the old code—a horrifying array of fevers and motorcycle collision injuries. But now there are 68,000 new and oddly specific ways to describe how screwed your health is.

Here are some of the strangest entires in ICD-10:

V97.33XD Sucked into jet engine, subsequent encounter

Imagine getting sucked into a jet engine and surviving, only to be sucked into a jet engine again. Get off the tarmac already. [Update: Commenters pointed out that “subsequent encounter” means it’s the second time a doctor saw a patient, which makes a LOT more sense.]

W16.221A Fall in (into) bucket of water causing drowning and submersion, initial encounter

W16.221D Fall in (into) bucket of water causing drowning and submersion, subsequent encounter

W16.221S Fall in (into) bucket of water causing drowning and submersion, sequela

Not sure how you’d fall into a bucket in the first place, let alone repeatedly, but let’s assume this is a circus-based injury?


W62.0XXA Contact with nonvenomous frogs, initial encounter

V95.40XA Unspecified spacecraft accident injuring occupant, initial encounter

Nothing worse than an unspecific spacecraft accident. Much more annoying than specific ones.


W61.11Xa Bitten by macaw, initial encounter

W61.11XD Bitten by macaw, subsequent encounter

W61.11XS Bitten by macaw, sequela

W61.62XA Struck by duck, initial encounter

W61.62XD Struck by duck, subsequent encounter

W61.62XS Struck by duck, sequela

You should leave the petting zoo at this point.

V98.2XXA Accident to, on or involving ice yacht, initial encounter

R46.1 Bizarre personal appearance


R46.0 Very low level of personal hygiene


Z63.1 Problems in relationship with in-laws

A66.8 Latent yaws

Z62.1 Parental overprotection

Z62.6 Inappropriate (excessive) parental pressure

T71.231D Asphyxiation due to being trapped in a (discarded) refrigerator, accidental, subsequent encounter

ICD-10 does a terrific job of cornering the “recurring nightmare horror plot” genre of injury.


Z99.89 Dependence on other enabling machines and devices

Y93.C1 Activity, computer keyboarding

Finally, proof blogging is hazardous.

A81.81 Kuru

This is a disease most often found in cannibals.

V91.07 Burn due to water-skies on fire

Oh no.


Image: FromSandToGrass/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


Share This Story

Get our newsletter