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New medical coding system adds a lot more specificity, paperwork

By Ben Sutherly

During your next office visit, don’t be surprised if your doctor or nurse takes a keener interest in exactly where you sprained your ankle or how you developed that upper respiratory infection.

The U.S. medical-coding system was updated on Thursday for the first time in 36 years at hospitals and physicians’ offices across the country, a switch-over that in many ways was invisible to patients.

But the new coding system — called International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision, or ICD-10 — demands greater specificity not only about an individual’s health condition but often about the circumstances that led to an injury or illness.

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