You hear it all the time, lots of talk about medical billing and coding and you may

wonder; do Doctors carry come sort of decoder ring or tap Morse code to the nurses to get the right meds? Ok, that might make for a good episode of “Scrubs” but no, no such luck. The reality of medical coding is much more complex and yet it provides a universal system to simplify health care. The Basics Up until the 20th century there was no global method of classifying diseases. But by 1949 The World Health Organization (WHO) established The Manual of the International Classification of Diseases, Injuries and Causes of Death (ICD). The ICD then became the universally accepted method of distinguishing all manners of injuries and diseases. Medical codes are now used in every aspect of health care, from a simple doctor’s visit to brain surgery. Every disease, every condition and procedure is assigned a specific numeric code. These codes are used by medical professionals worldwide to communicate with each other and with insurance providers. These codes have unified the practice of medicine internationally and established a standard for billing and payment from private and government programs. While utilizing a common coding system has helped to prevent miscommunications between institutions involved in all levels of the health care process; it is yet an imperfect system which can, in some cases, cause billing and coverage problems for patients.