The development, evolution, and modifications of ICD-10: Challenges to the international comparability of morbidity data

Nathalie Jetté, Hude Quan, Brenda Hemmelgarn, Saskia Drosler, Christina Maass, Lori Moskal, Wansa Paoin, Vijaya Sundararajan, Song Gao, Robert Jakob, Bedihran Üstün, William A. Ghali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Background: The United States is about to make a major nationwide transition from ICD-9-CM coding of hospital discharges to ICD-10-CM, a country-specific modification of the World Health Organization's ICD-10. As this transition occurs, the WHO is already in the midst of developing ICD-11. Given this context, we undertook this review to discuss: (1) the history of the International Classification of Diseases (a core information "building block" for health systems everywhere) from its introduction to the current era of ICD-11 development; (2) differences across country-specific ICD-10 clinical modifications and the challenges that these differences pose to the international comparability of morbidity data; (3) potential strategic approaches to achieving better international ICD-11 comparability. LITERATURE REVIEW AND Discussion: A literature review and stakeholder consultation was carried out. The various ICD-10 clinical modifications (ICD-10-AM [Australia], ICD-10-CA [Canada], ICD-10-GM [Germany], ICD-10-TM [Thailand], ICD-10-CM [United States]) were compared. These ICD-10 modifications differ in their number of codes, chapters, and subcategories. Specific conditions are present in some but not all of the modifications. ICD-11, with a similar structure to ICD-10, will function in an electronic health records environment and also provide disease descriptive characteristics (eg, causal properties, functional impact, and treatment). Conclusion: The threat to the comparability of international clinical morbidity is growing with the development of many country-specific ICD-10 versions. One solution to this threat is to develop a meta-database including all country-specific modifications to ensure more efficient use of people and resources, decrease omissions and errors but most importantly provide a platform for future ICD updates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1105-1110
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Care
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • ICD
  • ICD-10 clinical modifications
  • WHO
  • administrative data
  • morbidity


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