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As coders, we take our jobs very seriously, sometimes a little too seriously. What I mean by that is sometimes we take what we read to heart. As we are coding, we are reading the story of peoples’ lives and of their illnesses, their tragedies, their injuries, and sometimes even of their final days. And sometimes, we internalize what we are reading. We take it to heart, because we care. These are not just words on a page or codes in a book; they represent our friends and neighbors, and even our family.

We are not just coders; we’re human. One of the hazards of the job is that, if we’re not careful, we can become hypochondriacs. We read about all of these conditions as we’re coding and then pretty soon, when we have the slightest symptom, we sometimes go right to the worst case scenario in our minds and right to the symptom checker online. I used to think that I was the only one who did that.

But I read a Facebook post this week – on a coder only FB page – about this very thing and the many responses were both amusing and concerning. Many coders commented that they could so relate, that they do the same thing. So if you are one of those coders, myself included, take comfort that you are not alone in this, that many of your fellow coders suffer from the same malady, taking their coding to heart, and mind, and body. My response was simply this, Keep Calm and Code On.

And yes, there’s a code for that:

Hypochondria: F45.21
Exposure to excessive amount of medical records: X58.XXXA
Place of occurrence, home (because so many of us now work from home): Y92.009
Activity, coding: ______ Well, there should be a code for that. There’s a code for everything else!
External cause status, civilian activity done for income or pay: Y99.0
(Yes, external cause codes can be used with more than just injuries, see I.C.20.a.1 & 3)

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