Chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP) when present will become coded as a significant diagnosis for all hospital admissions and recorded in addition to the underlying cause (if known).
The Australian Consortium for Classification Development, led by the National Centre for Classification in Health (University of Sydney), has announced this modification to coding rules has been incorporated in ICD-10-AM/ACHI/ACS 10th edition and is to be implemented from July 2017.
The changes to coding will be implemented in all hospital inpatient stays including both public and private facilities.
Pain medicine physician Dr Tim Semple, who has long been advocating for improved recognition of CNCP in health classification data collection in Australian hospitals, believes this is a critical step in ensuring data will be available to allow government and health care providers better understand the impact of CNCP upon our acute care system.
“This will potentially ensure that the burden of care related to inpatient stays will now be detected and the cost implications will be much clearer,” he said.
“Once the coding system has been embedded and CNCP is documented as a clinical condition, it will allow for extensive and valuable data collection from an epidemiological viewpoint.
“This was a key recommendation of the National Pain Strategy and has been about 10 years in the making so we need to ensure clinicians in all aspects of hospital care document CNCP if present to get the most useful data.”
The amended classification system is based on a now widely held understanding that chronic pain can be a serious disease entity in its own right with its own distinct signs and symptoms.
The guidelines exclude acute pain from being coded if it is classifiable to an organ or body region, but they do include acute pain not elsewhere classified. Further information is available from the ACCD.