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9 most ridiculous ICD-10 codes that actually exist

Cropped SingleCare logo By | Updated on April 7, 2020
Medically reviewed by Michael L. Davis, MD

The latest ICD-10 codes describe just about every possible kind of unfortunate incident you could have: from the ridiculous to the downright strange.

What are ICD-10 codes?

The ICD, or International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, is a system of classification used by health professionals for insurance purposes. If someone has ever suffered from an ailment, accident, or affliction, you can bet it’s listed in this glossary of insurance claims.

Who makes ICD-10 codes?

The World Health Organization (WHO) owns and publishes ICD-10 codes worldwide. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is responsible for adapting them for use in the United States to classify and code diagnoses, symptoms, and procedures during patient care.

When doctors incorrectly code an ailment, they don’t get paid by insurers for their services, which explains why the ICD can get pretty detailed. Each and every kind of incident and its associated traumatic, environmental, and social contributing factor has an assigned code that contains between three and seven characters. Each year, WHO updates the ICD codes, and publishes a list of changes, constantly increasing the number of codes to over 70,000. The ICD-10 update was a huge overhaul of the previous (ICD-9) system, adding letters and chapters to classify causes—and a new level of detail.

10 common ICD-10 codes

When you leave your healthcare provider, you might find the ICD-10 diagnosis codes on a visit summary. Or, you’ll see it on the explanation of benefits for your visit from your insurance company.

Some examples of common codes include:

  1. A69.20: Lyme disease, unspecified
  2. B00.9: Herpesviral infection, unspecified
  3. B34.9: Viral infection, unspecified
  4. E0.39: Hypothyroidism, unspecified
  5. E55.9: Vitamin D deficiency, unspecified
  6. E78.5: Hyperlipidemia, unspecified
  7. I10: Essential (primary) hypertension
  8. N390: Urinary tract infection, site not specified
  9. R05: Cough
  10. Z00.00: General adult medical exam w.o abnormal findings

9 most ridiculous ICD-10 codes that actually exist

Because ICD-10 allows for much greater detail to describe a diagnosis, the latest system could lead to improved analysis concerning treatments of specific conditions, as well as better tracking of health threats and trends in the United States, according to the New York Times. That means that there are codes that describe some truly ridiculous situations that we can only assume actually took place at one point or another. Here’s a look at the 9 most absurd codes in the ICD-10:

1. Spacecraft collision injuring occupant: V95.43

As our ventures into space get more frequent and more public, you can expect to see a lot of code V95.43. There are other spacecraft-related injuries with their own ICD codes, including unspecified spacecraft accident (V95.40XA) and forced landing of spacecraft, injuring occupant (V95.42XA). The lesson: if you’re taking the space shuttle, don’t forget to buckle up.

2. Problems with the in-laws: Z63.1

Because you can’t choose your partner’s parents. All kinds of problems can happen when everyone is back home for the holidays — even the kind of problems that may necessitate a hospital trip.

3. Injured in an opera house: Y92.253

Perhaps someone really did break a leg while performing. Or maybe it was simply a case of burst eardrums?

4. Burn due to water skis on fire, initial encounter: V91.07XA

This one really speaks for itself, though it is nonetheless hard to imagine a circumstance in which your water skis would catch on fire. Whoever it was must have been going REALLY fast.

5. Sucked into jet engine, subsequent encounter: V97.33XD

Just in case you survived the first time you got sucked into a jet engine, there is a code for the “subsequent encounter,” which you also survived. For someone who’s apparently able to endure ridiculously dangerous injuries, you must have some pretty bad luck. (And, even though “subsequent encounter” refers to a subsequent doctor’s visit, not the initial visit, the likelihood of making it to the initial visit sounds doubtful.)

6. Bizarre personal appearance: R46.1

Does having horns implanted in ones’ forehead count? Leave it to your imagination.

7. Struck by a turtle: W59.21XA

In case you’re an avid turtle collector or you have cruel friends, the ICD-10 features three codes to describe being injured by the sea-faring reptile: you could be bitten, struck, or sustain a wound vague enough to qualify as “injurious contact with a turtle.” There are also codes for the kinds of bodily harm that dolphins, sea lions, and orcas might bring you. Or, if you’re more of a landlubber, there are codes for injuries acquired when you’re struck by a duck, cow, or macaw.

8. Other superficial bite of other specified part of neck, initial encounter: S1087XA

Either you’re spending too much time with vampires or you’re dating someone who kisses a bit too aggressively. Either way, be careful out there.

9. Injured when knitting or crocheting: Y93.D1

Even though this code is probably for carpal tunnel and hand overuse problems, you never know when the errant crochet needle is going to strike. Be sure to wear protective safety goggles at all times when handling knitting materials.