ICD-10 Codes Amid the Pandemic and the U.S. Election

Original story posted on: November 16, 2020

The mood of the country impacts claims.

There are a few words that can be associated with the pandemic and the election. These words are the following:

  • Stress – a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances
  • Anxiety – a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome
  • Depression – feelings of severe despondence and dejection

These definitions are from Webster’s Dictionary, not Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Revision (DSM5) and certainly describe the mood of the country.   There are various codes associated with these conditions.



ICD-10-CM Code





Work related



Work schedule



Family due to stressful life events












Panic type












Major with psychotic symptoms



Mild, single, episode






Recurrent with psychotic features


There are more codes for depression with specific descriptors.    A physician query can be issued to obtain a more specific code.   

The diagnosis codes that fall between Z55 – Z65 are considered to be Social Determinants of Health (SDoH).   These codes have not been assigned often but are utilized in population health data.  This data has been utilized by payers and other organizations to create social programs have developed during the pandemic.

There are some behavioral health codes that can affect reimbursement when they have specificity.   Bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and specified mood disorders are considered comorbid/complications (CCs) under Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS).   

A physician query that clarifies the diagnosis regarding the acuity and type may identify a condition that impacts reimbursement. 

The diagnosis (and procedure) codes should tell a story about the patient’s condition and experience.   

The current mood of the country will add more of these codes to the patient claims.

Programming Note: Laurie Johnson is a permanent panelist on Talk Ten Tuesdays. Listen to her live reporting on ICD-10 codes every Tuesday at 10 a.m. EST.

Laurie M. Johnson, MS, RHIA, FAHIMA AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer

Laurie M. Johnson, MS, RHIA, FAHIMA, AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer is currently a senior healthcare consultant for Revenue Cycle Solutions, based in Pittsburgh, Pa. Laurie is an American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) approved ICD-10-CM/PCS trainer. She has more than 35 years of experience in health information management and specializes in coding and related functions. She has been a featured speaker in over 40 conferences. Laurie is a member of the ICD10monitor editorial board and makes frequent appearances on Talk Ten Tuesdays.

Related Stories

  • New Changes to the Official Coding and Reporting Guidelines for Diabetic Medications
    November is Diabetes Awareness Month. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and it seems additionally appropriate to review diabetes when there is a focus on chronic diseases.     According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes is a chronic disease that…
  • Special Bulletin: AMA unveils new codes as COVID vaccine approval looms
    Federal approval of the Pfizer vaccine, believed to be better than 90 percent effective, could occur before the end of the month. When the long-awaited and much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine becomes available in the U.S., a development that could take place…
  • Sounding the Alarm About False Positives
    There are false negatives; there are false positives; there are untested individuals with disease.  I am in the process of developing a 90-minute COVID-19 webinar for ICDUniversity in December to outline new codes and updates, and my inbox is replete…