There is no automatic or direct translation from ICD-9 to ICD-10. The granularity of the ICD-10 coding scheme brings about many issues when transferring legacy system codes to the new code set. While payers and providers may like the idea of simply translating legacy patient and claims information into the applicable ICD-10 code using automated tools, these tools try to find the associated ICD-10 codes based upon the compounded specifications of previous ICD-9 codes. This can lead to unspecified data and information that the code designer never intended.
The key factor that impedes code translation is the sheer volume of possibilities that ICD-10 presents when compared to ICD-9. ICD-10 has eight times as many codes as compared to ICD-9. The ICD-9 code structure allowed only numeric codes with the possible inclusion of an E or V in front of the code for further distinction. Because of the limitations of the original structure, ICD-9 is reaching its capacity. The ICD-10 coding structure is alphanumeric, allowing for reporting while also allowing for the creation of new codes as needed, yet also making direct translation extremely difficult.
Translators cannot be 100% correct because there are very few direct translations from ICD-9 to ICD-10. To succeed, intervention by a skilled medical coder is mandatory.