Health Language Blog

5,500+ Updates Are Coming to ICD-10

Posted on 03/30/16


It has been five years since those of us in the healthcare industry have had to prepare for updates to the ICD code set. During this time, updates were put on hold while the industry prepared for and underwent the ICD-10 transition. Now that ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS have been successfully implemented, it is time to prepare for long-awaited revisions and additions. Beginning October 1, 2016, we can now expect that there will be annual revisions to the ICD-10 code set, bringing the industry back to the regular update cycle.

CMS’ Announcement

In March of this year, the ICD-10 Coordination and Maintenance Committee met to review proposals for both ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS that (if approved) would be included in the October 1, 2017 classification system addenda for fiscal year 2018. The coming 2016 update includes approximately 3,650 new ICD-10-PCS codes, along with approximately 1,900 new ICD-10-CM codes. The proposals also included nearly 500 revised ICD-10-PCS codes and 351 revised ICD-10-CM codes.

These new codes relate to devices, the addition of bifurcation as a qualifier, additional body parts, and codes related to congenital cardiac procedures and placement of intravascular neurostimulators. Changes to ICD-10-CM cover a greater list of body systems and sections of the code book, allowing more specificity for certain diagnoses to elevate patient care. For instance, there are proposed codes for blindness as well as low vision that allow more specificity to track sight loss in each eye. The full list of the proposed new ICD-10-CM codes, as well as additions and deletions, can be viewed at the Centers for Disease Control website.

The total number of codes being added should turn heads across the industry. After all, we are still recovering from the magnitude of the ICD-10 transition itself. While we would all like to breathe a collective sigh of relief, the reality is that this will not be the only large update. All of us who have been working with the ICD-10 code set know large holes exist throughout the procedure and diagnosis sections that will need to be corrected over time. The coming 2016 update is the first of the large updates, but it is certainly not the last.

Are You Prepared For a Major Update?

The size of the update brings up many questions for users. How can you prepare for the update? How much time will it take? Do you have the manpower to take on the additions and revisions? In previous years with ICD-9-CM, providers usually only had to consider a couple hundred new and revised codes at most. With the lengthy, five-year code freeze that only included small, necessary updates, the backlog of new, revised, or deleted codes continued to grow. Providers have also now had time to work with ICD-10 and consider areas for improvement.

Providers can comment on the proposed codes through April 8. Comments for the ICD-10-PCS code proposals should be sent to, while comments on the            ICD-10-CM code proposals should be sent to The final code updates with the 2017 addendum are expected to be published in June, ahead of the October implementation date.

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Topics: ICD-10

About the Author

Katie Sutton has 15 years of career experience in the medical field and is a seasoned coding and terminology professional for Health Language. Previously, Katie worked for Centura Health as an outpatient facility coder. At Health Language, she leads a team of content analysts in creating, mapping, and maintaining our 280+ content sets. She has published several articles about ICD-10 usage, including in For the Record – ICD-10 Coding Success: the Devil is in the Details.