NPR : News

Filed Under:

Paintball Injury? Your Hospital Has A Code For That

Maybe, like me, you're one of the few who missed the recent report on injuries caused by BB and paintball guns that showed how often mishaps lead to emergency room visits. I'm surprised my mom didn't call me personally just to say she told me so.

Anyway, there are about 56 visits a day to emergency rooms around the country due to injuries from the guns, according to estimates compiled by the federal Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research. BB and pellet guns are the biggest problem, accounting for 97 percent of the more than 20,000 injuries in 2008. But paintball, too, can hurt, with bruises their No. 1 problem.

Kids sustain most of the injuries — 57 percent. Injury rates for air guns, but not paintball weapons, are higher in the South and rural areas. Overall, though, the ER visits declined about 20 percent between 2006 and 2008.

Now how in the world would people be able to figure this out? There are standardized diagnostic codes specific to these injuries. Really.

The AHRQ researchers used some nifty software to sift through medical data looking for case patterns. And that's possible because of an international system of diagnostic codes. In the U.S.,the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification, is the official rule book. The codes are used for research and billing, and, less often, blog posts.

So, with the right database, you could look for codes like these:

E922.4: Accident caused by firearm and air gun missile — air gun (BB gun, pellet gun)

E922.5: Accident caused by firearm and air gun missile — paintball gun

E968.6: Assault by air gun

E985.6: Injury by air gun, undetermined whether accident or on purpose

E985.7: Injury by paintball gun, undetermined whether accident or on purpose

But why stop there? There are even some wilder codes among the more than 13,000 in the ICD-9-CM. Scorpion bite? Yep. Centipede bite? Sure. Hurt by a spacecraft? Yep, it's in there, too: E845.0.

Now just because there's a code, doesn't mean it's ever been used, as the Wall Street Journal Health Blog reported a few years back. "Whether someone was injured [by a spacecraft] or not was immaterial because somebody thought, 'What If?' " Sheri Poe Bernard from the American Academy of Professional Coders told the blog.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Peruvians Love Their Chicha Street Art. The Government ... Not So Much

Walk down a street in Peru and you'll likely see an example of the glow-in-the-dark posters and murals. Lots of people love them. But the upper crust — and the government — aren't impressed.
NPR

Tea-Infused Sweets: Chocolate + Jasmine Tea Is A Match Made In Heaven

Smoky and floral brews can provide a kick of flavor to desserts, especially when blended with chocolate. Pastry chef Naomi Gallego shows us a few tricks for surprising the palate with tea.
WAMU 88.5

America's First Ladies

They walk a tricky line: closest adviser to the President of the United States and hostess in chief. A new book examines the evolution of the role of first lady of the United States.

WAMU 88.5

E-Cigarettes and Vaping

Last week, the D.C. Council voted to designate e-cigarettes and "similar vapor products containing nicotine" as tobacco products. That means that their sales tax will jump from the regular 5.75% sales tax to the 70% tax that's tacked onto sales of products like cigarettes and cigars. We explore what this means for the evolving public health debate surrounding e-cigarettes.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.