Comparison of ICD-10 Codes Among Patients With COVID-19 Symptoms

International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes are used to characterize coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)–related symptoms. Their accuracy is unknown, which could affect downstream analyses. In their study, Crabb, et al. (2020) sought to compare the performance of fever-, cough-, and dyspnea-specific ICD-10 codes with medical record review among patients tested for COVID-19.

This cohort study included patients who underwent quantitative reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 at University of Utah Health from March 10 to April 6, 2020. Data analysis was performed in April 2020.

The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) of ICD-10 codes for fever (R50*), cough (R05*), and dyspnea (R06.0*) were compared with manual medical record review. Performance was calculated overall and stratified by COVID-19 test result, sex, age group (<50, 50-64, and >64 years), and inpatient status. Bootstrapping was used to generate 95% CIs, and Pearson χ2 tests were used to compare different subgroups.

Among 2201 patients tested for COVD-19, the mean (SD) age was 42 (17) years; 1201 (55%) were female, 1569 (71%) were White, and 282 (13%) were Hispanic or Latino. The prevalence of fever was 66% (1444 patients), that of cough was 88% (1930 patients), and that of dyspnea was 64% (1399 patients). For fever, the sensitivity of ICD-10 codes was 0.26 (95% CI, 0.24-0.29), specificity was 0.98 (95% CI, 0.96-0.99), PPV was 0.96 (95% CI, 0.93-0.97), and NPV was 0.41 (95% CI, 0.39-0.43). For cough, the sensitivity of ICD-10 codes was 0.44 (95% CI, 0.42-0.46), specificity was 0.88 (95% CI, 0.84-0.92), PPV was 0.96 (95% CI, 0.95-0.97), and NPV was 0.18 (95% CI, 0.16-0.20). For dyspnea, the sensitivity of ICD-10 codes was 0.24 (95% CI, 0.22-0.26), specificity was 0.97 (95% CI, 0.96-0.98), PPV was 0.93 (95% CI, 0.90-0.96), and NPV was 0.42 (95% CI, 0.40-0.44). ICD-10 code performance was better for inpatients than for outpatients for fever (χ2 = 41.30; P < .001) and dyspnea (χ2 = 14.25; P = .003) but not for cough (χ2 = 5.13; P = .16).

The researchers say these findings suggest that ICD-10 codes lack sensitivity and have poor NPV for symptoms associated with COVID-19. This inaccuracy has implications for any downstream data model, scientific discovery, or surveillance that relies on these codes.

Reference: Crabb BT, et al. Comparison of International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision Codes With Electronic Medical Records Among Patients With Symptoms of Coronavirus Disease 2019. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(8):e2017703. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.17703

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