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The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is a coding system maintained by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Center for Health Statistics and is used to classify causes of death on death certificates and diagnoses, injury causes, and medical procedures for hospital and emergency department visits. These codes are updated every decade or so to account for advances in medical technology. Currently, the U.S. is using the 10th revision of the ICD (ICD-10).
ICD codes are used on the death certificate primarily for surveillance purposes. There is a strong emphasis in the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) protocols on correct classification of underlying cause of death and related causes of death on the death certificate, and the process is well-defined and regularly audited. The validity is excellent to the extent that the persons completing the death certificate record the causes of death accurately and legibly. (Sometimes death certificates are completed by the Office of the Medical Examiner, but they are also completed by physicians, funeral directors, and law enforcement.)

ICD codes that are used in the hospital discharge query system are the codes that were recorded in the Uniform Bill-Patient Summaries (UB), a standard electronic billing form used across the country. The primary purpose of supplying codes to this form is to bill for hospital services. In general, it is believed that the ICD codes on the UB do an adequate job of accurately recording the reason (diagnosis) for each hospital visit.
See A Guide to State Implementation of ICD-10 for Mortality Part II: Applying Comparability Ratios. (December 2000) National Center for Health Statistics, pp. 6-7.
ICD-10 and ICD-10-CM
*ICD-10-CM was implemented nationwide on October 1, 2015. New Jersey hospital records for October 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015 were back-coded to ICD-9-CM so the entire data year would be coded the same way.

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