Coding Long COVID: Characterizing a New Disease through an ICD-10 Lens


Emily R. Pfaff Charisse Madlock-Brown John M. Baratta Hannah Davis Andrew Girvin Elaine Hill Elizabeth Kelly Kristin Kostka Johanna Loomba Julie A. McMurry Rachel Wong Tellen D. Bennett Richard Moffitt Christopher G. Chute Melissa Haendel {The N3C Consortium} {The RECOVER Consortium}


Naming a newly discovered disease is a difficult process; in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the existence of post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), which includes long COVID, it has proven especially challenging. Disease definitions and assignment of a diagnosis code are often asynchronous and iterative. The clinical definition and our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of long COVID are still in flux, and the deployment of an ICD-10-CM code for long COVID in the USA took nearly 2~years after patients had begun to describe their condition. Here, we leverage the largest publicly available HIPAA-limited dataset about patients with COVID-19 in the US to examine the heterogeneity of adoption and use of U09.9, the ICD-10-CM code for “Post COVID-19 condition, unspecified.”

BMC Medicine