Updated on: March 16, 2016

Memorizing ICD-10-CM by the Letters

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Original story posted on: March 30, 2014

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of a three part series on tips for memorizing ICD-10 codes. Read Part 2 and Part 3

One of the biggest complaints about moving to ICD-10-CM is that people have memorized many ICD-9-CM codes – and there is concern that ICD-10-CM can’t be memorized. This article series will provide assistance in “memorizing” ICD-10-CM – maybe not to the exact code, but the process will get you close. Shall we get started?

 

Each ICD-10-CM code begins with a letter. Each letter can be associated with a specific ICD-10-CM chapter. Some chapters include more than one letter and some chapters share beginning letters.

Chapter 1 contains infectious and parasitic diseases. In ICD-10-CM, the letters that begin these codes are A and B. These codes can be associated with the mnemonic of “advancing bugs” (A–B) denoting these infectious and parasitic diseases. This chapter also contains the organisms that are added to infections, as well as sepsis. The documentation concerns for this chapter involve association of the organisms with specific infections.

Chapter 2 contains neoplasms. In ICD-10-CM, the letters that begin these codes are C and D. These codes can be associated with the mnemonic of “cancer and death” (C-D) denoting these neoplasms. This chapter only contains the first part of the D codes, as D also appears in Chapter 3. This chapter contains all benign, malignant, metastases, in-situ, uncertain, and unspecified neoplasms. The index has a neoplasm table that is the same as the ICD-9-CM neoplasm table. The only exception is that the ICD-10 neoplasm table is not located in the same place in the index; it appears after the alphabetic main terms in the index. The documentation concerns for this chapter involve the neoplasm behavior – malignant, secondary malignancy, benign, etc.

Chapter 3 contains diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs. In ICD-10-CM, the letter that begins these codes is D. These codes can be associated with the mnemonic of “Dracula” (D), denoting blood and blood-forming organ diseases. Only the second portion of the D is contained in this chapter, which also contains conditions like anemia, thalassemia, etc. The documentation concerns in this chapter involve specific types of anemia, lymphoma, and leukemia, plus the severity of blood cancers (whether they are acute or chronic).

Chapter 4 contains metabolic, endocrine, and nutritional diseases. In ICD-10-CM, the letter that begins these codes is E. These codes can be associated with the mnemonic of “endocrine” (E), denoting endocrine, metabolic, and nutritional diseases. This chapter contains the frequently reported conditions of morbid obesity, diabetes mellitus, and hyponatremia. The documentation concerns in this chapter involve the specific type of diabetes (type 1, type 2, due to drug, due to underlying disease, other).

Chapter 5 contains the mental, behavioral, and neurodevelopmental Disorders. In ICD-10-CM, the letter that begins these codes is F. The codes can be associated with the mnemonic of “freaky” (F), denoting the behavioral and psychiatric disorders. This chapter also contains tobacco, drug, and alcohol behavioral conditions and various forms of depression and attention-deficit disorder. The documentation concerns in this chapter involve the consistent use of the terms “abuse” and “dependence.” ICD-10-CM also introduces the term of “use,” here associated with alcohol and drug behaviors.

Chapter 6 contains the nervous system diseases. In ICD-10-CM, the letter that begins these codes is G. The codes can be associated with the mnemonic of “gittery” (G), taking some literary license with the actual word “jittery,” to denote the nervous system diseases. This chapter contains epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and demyelinating diseases. The documentation concerns in this chapter involve the specificity of early or late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, types of seizures, and associated conditions with migraines (with aura, intractable, with/without cerebral infarction, etc.).

Chapter 7 contains the diseases of the eye and adnexa. In ICD-10-CM, the letter that begins these codes is H. The codes can be associated with the mnemonic of “hyphema” (H) for the eye disorders. This chapter only includes the first portion of the H codes, as H is shared with Chapter 8 (Diseases of the Ear). This chapter contains conjunctivitis, cataracts, blindness, and macular degeneration. The documentation concerns in this chapter involve laterality, severity of conditions (acute, chronic, sub-acute, complete, partial), and glaucoma stages (mild, moderate, severe, indeterminate).

My series will be continued in Part 2, which will cover Chapters 8 through 14. Keep practicing your ICD-10-CM by the letters!

Disclaimer: Every reasonable effort was made to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time it was published. However, due to the nature of industry changes over time we cannot guarantee its validity after the year it was published.
Laurie Johnson, MS, RHIA, CPC-H, FAHIMA, AHIMA-Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer

Laurie M. Johnson, MS, RHIA, FAHIMA 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.