As the Ebola outbreak heightens after a Dallas nurse was diagnosed with the virus after caring for Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan before he died at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital reveals a brewing public health concern. Currently, there is no specific ICD-9 code for Ebola and is classified as 078.89, Other specified diseases due to viruses. The lack of specificity in patient data limits the U.S.’s ability to immediately track and respond to the Ebola outbreak from a public health perspective.
Also, since the United State is the last industrialized nation still using ICD-9, sharing data with other countries is extremely difficult to support biosurveliance of public health threats. If the ICD-10 delay was not announced back in spring, the U.S. would be able to use the ICD-10 code for the Ebola virus – A98.4 to assess the efficacy of treatment and outcomes. The lost opportunity to take advantage of ICD-10 could prove to be major public health concern as the Ebola outbreak continues to spread in the U.S.
The following infographic below created by Coalition for ICD-10 illustrates the public health impact of ICD-10 in supporting the biosurveillance of the eBola outbreak.