ICD Coding for Antibiotic Resistant Infections

  19 October 2019

Antibiotics are powerful medicines used to treat diseases caused by bacteria. They prevent the reproduction of bacteria or they kill the bacteria. Antibiotics have saved lives, and proved successful in treating chronic diseases and infections that can occur in patients receiving chemotherapy treatments or in people who have complex surgeries. However, overuse of antibiotics has dissipated their benefits.

The root causes of antibiotic resistance are:

  • Inappropriate use – for example, prescribing antimicrobials for a viral infection
  • Prescription based on inappropriate diagnostics or over-prescription – prescribing an antimicrobial “just-in-case” or prescribing a broad-spectrum antimicrobial when a specific antibiotic may be more suitable
  • Patients not completing the entire antibiotic course
  • Overuse of antibiotics in agricultural feed and fish farming
  • Poor infection control in health care settings
  • Poor hygiene and sanitation
  • Insufficient new antibiotics under development

Absence of effective antimicrobials for the prevention and treatment of infection leads to prolonged illness, disability, and death. New resistance mechanisms pose high risks for medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery. The cost of treating antimicrobial resistance (AR) is much higher than for treating non-resistant infections owing to lengthier stays in hospital, extensive testing, and more costly drugs.

 ICD-10 Coding for Antibiotic-resistant Infections

 Treating medication resistance is a formidable challenge for hospitals and practitioners.In addition to costly patient isolation methods, coding antibiotic-resistant infections can significantly impact revenue, especially if patients get these infections during a hospital stay (www.hfma.org). Healthcare providers need to correctly diagnose the infection and report it using the correct codes.

Authors: Rajeev Rajagopal
Effective Surveillance  
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