AMA comes down against ICD-10

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | November 15, 2011
The American Medical Association has voted to oppose the adoption of a new morbidity classification system the government is requiring providers to adopt over the next few years.

At the closing session of its semi-annual delegates meeting in New Orleans this week, the group, which represents about a quarter of U.S. doctors, voted to stop the implementation of ICD-10, citing high costs, paltry patient benefits and bad timing.

"The implementation of ICD-10 will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patients' care," AMA's president Dr. Peter W. Carmel said in a statement.

Based on a system developed by the World Health Organization, the two ICD-10 systems, ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS, are replacing the more than 30-year-old ICD-9 systems for classifying diagnoses and inpatient procedures. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires all U.S. providers to upgrade to ICO-10-CM for diagnostic codes by Oct. 1, 2013. And hospitals have to move to ICD-10-PCS by the same date if they want to get reimbursed for inpatient procedures.

The new codes have already been adopted by all industrial countries but the United States, according to the American Health Information Management Association. But transition could be a tall order, as the new system is much more complex than ICD-9. For instance, ICD-10-CM has 68,000 diagnostic codes, compared to ICD-9's 13,000, according to an AHIMA tutorial on the switch-over.

The complexity could translate into a higher expense. AMA said a recent study found a three-physician practice would have to spend more than $83,000 to implement ICD-10, while a 10-doctor practice would have to spend $285,000.

Aditya Jayaram


November 16, 2011 11:42

Interesting that the shift to the new ICD 10 coding scheme is facing opposition from the AMA.The new system of coding offers increased specificity and granularity,thereby providing better diagnostics and targeted treatment of illnesses.Just read an informative whitepaper, ICD 9 to ICD 10 transition on strategies for successful transition to the new coding format @

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