How ICD-10 codes changed mortality statistics

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale

Despite the best efforts of the American Medical Association (AMA), ICD-10 already is used in the United States.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has been using ICD-10 codes since 1999 to report mortality statistics. Note the NCHS is not using the ICD-10-CM/PCS codes that were developed for use by HIPAA-covered entities.

The result is an interesting change in mortality statistics. For example, deaths attributed to heart disease decreased 1.5 percent. That's because ICD-10 focused on the causes of the disease.

The change in specificity has done similar things to statistics on pneumonia and bronchitis deaths.

At this moment, I can't see how to spin this as an argument for or against ICD-10 implementation. But it's worth looking at how statistics change when we change the classification.