What is an ICD-9 code?
International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9) coding is a statistical
classification system that arranges diseases and injuries into groups
according to established criteria. Most ICD-9 codes are
numeric and consist of three, four or five numbers and a description.
Example: An ICD-9 code for a broken arm is fractured radius, 813.81. In addition,
injuries are also coded according to their location on the body. So, the code for
the broken arm would indicate whether it was the left, right or bilateral (both)
arms. In addition, an injury site may be listed if necessary. Site locations apply
to injuries to the fingers, teeth and toes.
How does BWC use ICD-9 codes?
Since ICD-9 codes identify the type and nature of the injury, we use them to
determine appropriate medical treatment. For example, for a torn medial meniscus,
a serious knee injury, surgery would likely be an appropriate type of treatment.
However, if the allowed condition in the claim is a sprained knee,
surgery would not be appropriate, nor approved.
In addition, when medical providers bill BWC for services, they list the ICD-9
on the billing forms. BWC and the managed care organizations review all bills
to make sure medical providers treat only allowed conditions in the claim.
If bills are submitted for injuries that are allowed within the claim, we will
pay. If bills are submitted for injuries that are not allowed within the claim,
we will not pay.
ICD-9 codes are classified into various statuses. The status of the ICD-9 code will
determine whether we have allowed, denied or are still investigating the claim.
Here are the various ICD-9 statuses.
- New claim - The claim has been filed with BWC and is in the
initial investigation stage to determine whether it meets BWC criteria
and is valid. At this time, we have not yet been coded the claim with any
ICD-9 codes for injuries.
- Pending - Claim is under investigation but we have coded it
with ICD-9 codes for specific injuries.
- Allowed/appeal - We have completed the investigation, it appears
the ICD-9 code meets BWC criteria for allowance. We have issued an order
granting the ICD-9 code allowance; however, the claim is still within
the appeal period. Any party to the claim can file and appeal during the
- Allowed - We have issued an order granting the allowance of
the ICD-9 code. The appeal period has expired with no appeal filed, or the
ICD-9 code has been allowed via hearing order.
- Disallowed/appeal - We have finished the investigation, and it
appears the ICD-9 code does not meet the BWC guidelines for allowance.
BWC has issued an order denying the claim, but the claim is still within
the appeal period. At this time any party to the claim can file an appeal
to the claim denial.
- Disallowed - BWC has written an order denying the allowance
of the ICD-9 code. The appeal period has expired with no appeal field, or
the ICD-9 code has been denied via hearing order.
- Hearing - An appeal has been filed to the BWC order which
allowed/disallowed the ICD-9 code. We have referred the claim to BWC's
sister agency, The Industrial Commission of Ohio (IC) for a formal hearing.
- Hearing district hearing officer - The IC has allowed the claim,
but the claim is still within the appeal period. We can pay compensation;
however, the injured worker cannot receive medical benefits until the
appeal period has ended or the claim goes to the next hearing level.
What is substantial aggravation?
If a condition that existed before the workplace injury is aggravated by the injury,
and objective diagnostic or clinical findings or test results document that substantial
aggravation, the condition may be allowed in the claim. Once the pre-existing condition
has returned to a level without the workplace injury, no compensation or benefits are
Note: This applies to claims with dates of injury on or after Oct. 11, 2006.
Initial or subsequent allowance status definitions
- Pending - Substantial aggravation of a pre-existing condition is
being considered for allowance in the claim.
- Pending payable - Substantial aggravation of a pre-existing
condition is allowed pending a final decision.
This status applies only when an initial or subsequent allowance decision
is in the appeal period or has been referred to the IC.
- Payable - The injured worker is eligible for compensation and
medical benefits for the substantially aggravated pre-existing condition.
- Pending not payable - Substantial aggravation of a pre-existing
condition is disallowed pending a final decision.
This status applies only when an initial or subsequent denial decision is
in the appeal period or has been referred to the IC.
- Not payable - The injured worker is not eligible to receive
compensation or medical benefits for the substantially aggravated
This status applies when the condition is allowed or disallowed; however,
compensation and medical benefits can not be paid.
Note: For subsequent decisions of the substantially aggravated condition,
only payable and not payable statuses apply.