Test Taking Tip for ICD-10 – Of course, I’m a diagnosis coder by trade so I really like ICD-10 and I could talk all day on this, so I kind of pushed this back to one of the latter slides so I didn’t get carried away.

Q: Test Taking Tip for ICD-10: What is the best method for ICD-10 multiple choice questions, compare and contrast the ICD-10 answers in Tabular or use the Index?

A: Really, this was quite unique because when you’re doing multiple choice questions for testing, we usually say, “Well, you don’t have to rely on the Index as much because they’re giving you the codes. They know you know how to look up codes in the index and then go to the tabular. They’re really focusing on guidelines.”

But with ICD-10, this may surprise you: “The ICD-10 index will direct you to the proper code, but often the Tabular does not even list the diagnosis that you are looking for.”

This is very different than ICD-9. “If you just tried to compare two codes in the Tabular, you may not be able to recognize the proper code. Bottom line: Use the Index to find the proper codes.”

ICD-10-CM Medical Coding Practice Test Tip – Video

This is for looking up codes in the real world, too. Here are some examples:

Example 1: Diagnosis is skin tags. What is the ICD-10-CM code?

Well, if these were ICD-9 codes we just go look those up and then we’ll be able to compare them. However, none of these codes here list “skin tags” in the description in the Tabular. Huh!

So, let’s look at them:

D23.9 – Other benign neoplasm of skin, unspecified

D23.5 – Other benign neoplasm of skin of trunk

L91.8 – Other hypertrophic disorders of the skin

L90.8 – Other atropic disorders of skin


Well, that didn’t give us an answer. As we look up in the Index, we look up tag/skin/ points directly to L91.8, which is “other hypertrophic disorders of the skin.” Again, we wouldn’t have been able to figure that out, most likely.

Example 2: Diagnosis is enlarged thyroid. What is the ICD-10-CM code? We’ve got four choices here, they’re very close together. Again, these are unspecified probably, it’s just like ICD-9 in that way.

Compare and Contrast method: None of these lists “enlarged thyroid” in the description in the Tabular:

E03.8 – Other specified hypothyroidism

E04.0 – Other nontoxic diffuse goiter, diffuse (colloid) nontoxic goiter, simple nontoxic goiter

E04.9 – Nontoxic goiter unspecified, goiter NOS, nodular goiter (nontoxic) NOS

E07.9 – Disorders of thyroid, unspecified

Index Method: We looked under enlarged/thyroid says to see Goiter . Under Goiter, none of the subterms apply, so use the default codes, which is: Goiter (plunging) (substernal) E04.9. And you would not have been able to find that code if you had not gone to the Index. Again, use your Index.

Find More Information about ICD 10 CM Medical Coding Practice Test Tip

ICD 10 CM Practice Exams | CPC Practice Exams

AAPC – ICD 10 Tips and Resources

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About the Author:

Alicia has been working in the medical field for over 20 years. She first learned about medical coding while working in a medical records department at a resort town hospital near where she was raised. Through the years she has held several jobs in the medical field from, CNA, EMT, Pharmacy technician and Medial Records Abstractor and Analyst. Outside of the medical field she has worked as a Real Estate agent, and owned her own on-line retail business. The medical field has always been where she felt the most comfortable. Alicia has taught medical coding, billing and medical law and ethics at a private college. She also did contract work in HCC Risk Adjustment and discovered she really enjoyed ICD work. Because she loves to learn Alicia is working towards her Masters in Health Care Administration with an emphasis on education. Having taken many online classes through the years to complete her degree she feels very comfortable with both face to face and on-line learning. Alicia will tell you that not only does she love medical coding but she has a passion for teaching it. Alicia lives in the middle of Texas with her husband who is a Pastor, five of her six children, three dogs and two cats.

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