What Concerned Parents Need to Know About the ICD-10

Understanding and diagnosing illnesses takes a lot of expertise. It also requires an overarching standard on what symptoms indicate illnesses—that way, one practitioner doesn’t come up with an entirely different definition of a diagnosis from one made by another professional.

That’s where standardized guidelines come in, such as the ICD-10. Created by the World Health Organization (WHO), the ICD-10 is the 10th version of the International Classification of Diseases. The U.S. was one of the last countries with modern medical practices to fully implement the ICD-10, which it did in October 2015.

With that in mind, as a parent, it’s helpful to understand how the ICD-10 might affect your teen, particularly when it comes to mental health and addiction. Here’s what you need to know.

Understanding Classifications

Put simply, the ICD-10 is compiled of various codes for illnesses and diagnoses. This means that when someone is diagnosed with an illness, a medical professional will use the code associated with that illness to record that diagnosis, symptoms and any procedures that might be necessary.

Under Chapter V of the ICD-10 is the section titled “Mental and Behavioral Disorders.” This is the section that encompasses mental health diagnoses, including substance addiction. Each definition of mental health classifications are, in some cases, brief. For instance, the section for “Bipolar Affective Disorder” presents a short outline of the disorder and lists different variations that are summed up in one or two sentences.

However, mental health professionals will have a more robust and nuanced understanding of conditions so they’ll be able to elaborate on the specific issue when they speak with you directly.

Effects of ICD-10

One important thing to keep in mind is that aside from a few mentions of adolescent illnesses and development, the ICD-10 is not age specific. While mental health conditions might look different for youths compared to adults, the ICD-10’s descriptions of mental illnesses and addictions are overarching and not specific to what adolescents might be experiencing. As a result, it’s crucial to be thorough in your conversations with all healthcare providers you meet with so that they have a complete understanding of your teen’s symptoms.

Furthermore, you should remember that switching to a new system can be a lengthy and challenging process. Healthcare professionals are learning new (and many more) diagnostic codes every day, which takes time and creates delays with processes such as insurance payments. To help avoid frustration, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has stated that during the first year of this policy, they will accept all insurance claims that use the correct general category.

While the ICD-10 might be confusing, mental health professionals will have a better understanding of how to navigate its system. Ultimately, they are best equipped to answer any questions or concerns you might have regarding your teen’s health.

For more information, visit the CMS ICD-10 blog.

Feature Photo: DarkoStojanovic