The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th revision (ICD-10 of WHO) is an official classification of diagnoses. The German version is a direct translation in German language of the English version of ICD-10 of WHO; its main use in Germany is the encoding of causes of death. The currently valid version in Germany is ICD-10-WHO version 2019.

Version 2019 marks the end of the regular update cycle for the ICD-10-WHO. Changes to the international edition of the ICD-10 will only be published by WHO in exceptional cases.

ICD-10-GM is to be used for encoding in the outpatient and inpatient sectors.

Update from 22 April 2020

In accordance with the WHO guidelines of 16th April 2020, the assignment of the inclusion "COVID-19 o.n.A." in the ICD-10-WHO was adapted exclusively for the coding of causes of death.

ICD-10-WHO is available in various versions and formats in German language and was updated every three years. The currently valid version is effective from the beginning of a new year until the release of a new version. In the case of corrections during this period of validity you will be informed by our Newsletter.

Official diagnostic classification for the encoding of causes of death

BfArM publishes the ICD-10-WHO on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health; it is in the public domain. From 1 January 1998, it has been used in Germany for the encoding of causes of death, thus forming a basis for internationally comparable official statistics of causes of death.

Structure of ICD-10-WHO

ICD-10-WHO consists of three volumes:

  1. Volume 1 contains the Tabular List, i.e. the tabular list of inclusions a four-character subcategories ("Vierstellige ausführliche Systematik" VAS). In addition, it also contains introductory texts, the list of three-character categories ("Dreistellige allgemeine Systematik" DAS) and information about morphology of neoplasms.
  2. Volume 2 contains the Instruction Manual, consisting of a general introduction to ICD, the encoding rules for mortality and morbidity, numerous encoding examples and an overview of the history of the classification.
  3. Volume 3 contains the Alphabetical Index, an extensive compilation of encoded diagnoses, causes of injuries and poisoning as well as unwanted effects of drugs and chemical substances ("Alphabetisches Verzeichnis").

ICD-10-WHO in German as direct translation of ICD-10 of WHO

The abbreviation ICD stands for "International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems", the number 10 refers to the 10th revision of the classification. ICD-10 is the follow-up version to ICD-9 and part of the family of international health-related classifications of WHO. It is updated at regular intervals and undergoes fundamental revisions at greater intervals. ICD-10 of WHO is the internationally most frequently used diagnostic classification (mainly for the encoding of mortality).

BfArM is a WHO collaboration centre

As a WHO collaboration centre for the system of international classifications, BfArM works closely with WHO on the further development of ICD-10 and is represented in numerous WHO working groups and committees.

ICD-10-WHO vs. ICD-10-GM

In Germany, ICD-10 is mainly used in two official areas:

  • encoding of causes of death for mortality statistics
  • encoding of diagnoses in outpatient care to document inability to work and for billing purposes in accordance with the German Uniform Assessment Standard (EBM), and for billing purposes in inpatient care as part of the G-DRG payment system.

For the encoding of causes of death, the unmodified translation in German language of ICD-10 of WHO, known as ICD-10-WHO, is used for the purpose of an internationally comparable statistic of the causes of death. By contrast, in inpatient and outpatient care, the modified version ICD-10-GM is used which is adapted to the requirements of the German healthcare system. Both are official versions.

Special editions of ICD-10

In addition to ICD-10-GM, there are numerous unofficial special editions of ICD-10 for specialist medical fields for the purpose of documentation.

International classification of mental disorders

A very common adaptation of ICD-10 is the "ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders - Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines" by WHO.
This special edition for the encoding of diseases (morbidity) in psychosomatics, psychiatry and neurology is based on Chapter V "Mental and Behavioural Disorders" of the official ICD-10 by WHO. In addition, it also contains clinical-diagnostic guidelines. It corresponds with ICD-10 regarding three- and four-character codes. However, for many categories, it contains five-character subcodes not included in the official ICD-10.
In addition, there is a supplementary work also known as DCR-10 with diagnostic criteria for research ("Diagnostic criteria for Research"), which, among other things, contains additional five digits.
This special edition is available from bookshops in a German translation entitled "Internationale Klassifikation psychischer Störungen" (International classification of mental disorders) (either with the detailed clinical-diagnostic guidelines or with the diagnostic criteria for the research) . Its main purpose is the encoding of diagnoses in psychotherapeutic, psychosomatic and psychiatric hospitals as part of medical documentation and reporting. The original English versions can be found on the WHO website.

International comparable statistics of health

ICD-10 is the international standard diagnostic classification and permits the systematic recording, analysis, interpretation and comparison of mortality and morbitity data collected in different countries and at different times. One result of such comparison are the reports of the "World Health Statistics" of WHO.

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