A burn is tissue with partial or complete destruction of the skin caused by heat, sunlight, nuclear radiation, electricity, or chemicals. Every minute in the US someone sustains a burn injury that requires professional treatment. The American Burn Association estimates 486,000 hospitals admissions and visits to hospital emergency departments occur annually for burn evaluation and treatment in the US.

Proper selection of codes for burns requires the location of the burn, severity, extent, and external cause in addition to laterality and encounter. ICD-10 makes a distinction between burns and corrosions. Burn codes apply to thermal burns that come from heat, besides sunburn, like fire, electricity, radiation, and hot appliances. Whereas, corrosions are burns due to chemicals.

With ICD-10 Coding for Burns you will follow a coding pattern. The first code(s) listed is for site and severity, which is categories T20-T28 which would define anatomical location of the body affected by burn or corrosion. The fourth character for each category identifies the severity, except categories T26-T28. The fifth character of the code reports even more details regarding the anatomical site of the burn and the sixth character reports laterality.

The next listed code identifies the extent, or percentage, of the total body surface area (TBSA) involved from the burn or corrosion, which is found in categories T31-T32. Code T31 to report a burn and T32 for corrosion based of the rules of nines. The required fourth character identifies the percentage of the patient’s entire body affected by burns. The fifth character identifies the percentage of the patient’s body that is suffering from third degree burn or corrosions only.

The last code will identify the external cause or agent that caused the burn or corrosion. The external cause identifies the source, place, and intent of the burn. The agent identifies the chemical substance of the corrosion.