The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has shifted healthcare’s focus to an early prevention of illness and injury. On October 1 of this year, the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Edition (ICD-10), was unveiled to hospitals across the country. The ICD-10 will affect nursing in many ways, including training and patient care methods.
Hospitals have used ICD-9 since the 1970s. ICD-9 employed a five-digit code for each patient’s disease or injury in any given hospital. Unfortunately, this code gave nurses no immediate information on the severity of the disease or injury, associated risk factors, needed care, and other vital information. In contrast, ICD-10 uses a seven-digit code that provides all this data.
The new coding means nurses will receive better training and be more equipped to handle a variety of patient needs. ICD-10 will also influence nursing education. Many current nursing programs offer a bachelor’s degree rather than the traditional associate’s degree, which places more highly educated and better prepared nurses in the field. The use of ICD-10 will give these nurses more practical experience and up-to-date information in the classroom and in clinical work.
The changeover to ICD-10 will improve the types of technology used in hospitals. For example, ICD-10 will make patient databases more efficient. Since the seven-digit code will list each patient’s particular condition, doctors and nurses won’t have to comb through old or extraneous information. The particulars of ICD-10 can also help doctors and nurses determine treatment plans for incoming patients.
In the past, many rare diseases have gone undiagnosed for months or even years. Some diseases, such as osteogenesis imperfecta, have been mistaken for child abuse. With ICD-10, these diagnostic problems could well become obsolete. ICD-10 has specific codes for almost every type of disease or injury, including accidental, self-harm, routine healing, and assault. These codes will help healthcare professionals diagnose diseases and injuries accurately, and provide a higher level of patient care.