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Alcohol Alcohol. 2012 May-Jun;47(3):213-5. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/ags012. Epub 2012 Mar 13.

Alcohol misuse Y91 coding in ICD-11: rational terminology and logical coding specifically to encourage early identification and advice.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Kingston Hospital, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, UK.


Alcohol misuse is a common presentation to the Emergency Department (ED). The International Classification of Diseases ICD-10 for alcohol misuse, both under F10 and Y90/Y91, is not straightforward. The practicalities of coding ED attendances reveal an increasing detachment from ICD-10 (currently under review). Early identification [sometimes using blood alcohol concentrations (BACs)] and brief advice (IBA) can reduce unscheduled alcohol-related ED re-attendance. The UK Government Department of Health has implemented use of the terms 'Hazardous Drinking', 'Harmful Drinking' and 'Dependent Drinking' in its Public Service Agreements aimed at reducing harm by alcohol. Simplifying coding might increase IBA usage. We suggest that coding improvements in ICD-11 should update Y91 (currently 'clinical assessment')-with ICD-10 Y90 remaining for BAC to classify a patient's 'alcohol status'. Y90 and Y91 together would indicate the urgency for early IBA and/or speciality referral, aiming to reduce the prevalence of 'Dependent Drinking'.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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