X marks the ICD-10 placeholder
Nov 16, 2016 | VIA BLOG | Posted 12:57 AM by Dr. Jon Elion

The number of characters signifying an ICD-10 diagnosis varies. For example, when coding for ophthalmic complications from diabetes, there will be seven characters. But not all of them mean something.

  • The first three characters, describe the type of diabetes.
  • The fourth character communicates the diabetes has complications for an eye (or both).
  • The fifth and sixth characters show the specific complication.
  • The seventh character designates laterality.

Sometimes only one character is needed to designate a complication but there will always be a seventh character designating laterality. So when there is a fifth character but not a sixth, use X as a placeholder as a sixth character.

Here’s a round up of recent articles and posts on how to code diagnoses and procedures in ICD-10:

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