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  • Kathryn Patterson

Would You Get Crushed by a Snake Twice?

  1. Bitten by an orca 

  2. Bitten by a shark

  3. Crushed by a nonvenomous snake

  4. Bitten by a squirrel

  5. Burned by water skis that are on fire

  6. Spacecraft explosion injury

  7. Spacecraft fire injury

  8. Unknown spacecraft injury, e.g. a space toilet falling on your head and killing you

  9. Bitten by a pig

  10. Struck by a pig

  11. Poisoning by caffeine, assault

  12. Toxic effect of venom of caterpillars, assault

Seriously, how can a caterpillar assault you?

Several of the new codes come with instance modifiers; for example, "Bitten by an orca" comes in  

three varieties:

  1. initial encounter, 

  2. subsequent encounter, and 

  3. sequela.   

Therefore, ICD-10 has three codes for bitten by an orca, depending on how many times you've been bitten.  (This begs the question, who gets bitten by an orca more than once?)

Also, for codes that relate to venom or poisoning, the codes contain modifiers related to cause.  So for "Poisoning by caffeine" has four codes for:

  1. accidental (unintentional)

  2. intentional, self-harm

  3. assault

  4. undetermined

This past summer, two different men found a rattlesnake and decided to take a selfie with the snake. One, Alex Gomez, picked it up, snapped a shot, then tried to reposition the snake to lay around his neck.  The rattlesnake, having enough photos for the day, bit the man on his thumb.  The other man, Todd Fassler, did the same thing, only he got bitten in his arm and needed all the antivenom available from two hospitals to live.

Truly, I don't blame the snake in either case.

But I wonder, in the new ICD-10, are these incidents classified as accidental, intentional, or assault?  Because no one intented to get bitten, which leans towards accidental.  But both men definitely picked up a rattlesnake, an intentional action.  And the snake intentionally bit them - does this count as assault?

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