The ICD-10 code system exists and operates at a global level so researchers can track rates of morbidity for certain conditions and leaders can make decisions about policies and resources to respond to the data. On a more individual level, you work as a healthcare professional who uses these codes to look up information about specific conditions and input this into your notes and documents. Your clients can use these codes to look up more information about their health, insurance providers rely on these codes for billing purposes, and other care providers utilize them to provide consistent treatment. One condition with its own ICD-10 code is amnestic disorder.

F04 – Amnestic Disorder Due to Known Physiological Condition

The ICD-10 code for amnestic disorder is F04 when the cause is a known physiological condition. The World Health Organization lists this code under the broader range of classifications for all disorders of a behavioral, mental, or neurodevelopmental nature. Proper classification of a client’s diagnosis can determine whether or not their insurance reimburses approved treatments, and it also communicates their specific condition to other healthcare professionals involved in their personal care.

What Is Amnestic Disorder?

People might commonly know amnestic disorder as simply amnesia. Whatever term you use, it describes someone losing their memories, and those memories can include experiences, facts, and information. Popular fiction media, including television and movies, might demonstrate amnesia as a character forgetting their identity, but real-life occurrences usually don’t suffer that specific aspect. Rather, amnesiacs typically know their identity. 

However, they might have difficulty learning new things and forming new memories. This condition can result from brain damage that specifically happens in tissue crucial to processing memories. Temporary memory loss is known as transient global amnesia, but amnestic disorder can be permanent. General treatment isn’t applicable to all cases, but specific treatments can target underlying causes. Clients with this condition are often given tips to enhance their memory abilities, and their families might also learn coping techniques to help them out.

Causes and Risk Factors

Amnestic disorder can have several different causes, but they nearly always involve the brain. Standard memory function relies on many different parts of the human brain, so any injury or disease that impacts the brain might also have a negative influence on memory. Amnesia due to brain damage or injury is called neurological amnesia, and the limbic system in charge of memories and emotions is often a core factor. These parts of the brain are deep in the brain center’s thalamus or the hippocampal formations of the temporal lobes. Potential causes of neurological amnesia might include stroke, brain inflammation, lack of oxygen, seizures, head injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic alcohol misuse.

A different kind of amnestic disorder is known as dissociative amnesia, and this one can be dangerous if you witness it in your clients. It typically originates with emotional trauma or shock of some kind. These experiences might be natural disasters, war, or individual abuse. Individuals afflicted with this particular condition are at higher risk of suicidal behaviors or self-harm. They’re usually blocking out unpleasant or distressing memories. These memory losses are usually brief, and they’re not the same as just forgetting something.

The risk factors known to contribute to amnestic disorder include several different factors. Chronic alcohol misuse can contribute to it, and stroke or seizures also increase a client’s odds of developing this condition. Any head trauma, injury, or brain surgery also presents potential complications.


Amnestic disorder usually presents two primary symptoms. The first is individuals who have difficulty learning new information, and the second is people having a hard time recalling past events or information that was familiar to them previously. Most sufferers of amnestic disorder have issues with their short-term memory. Recent memories are the ones more likely to be harder to recall or access, but deeply ingrained or remote memories might still be possible to retrieve. Sufferers might remember who presidents were when they were kids but couldn’t tell you who the current one is.

A client with isolated memory loss shouldn’t see any decline in awareness, attention span, or intelligence, nor should their identity, personality, or judgment be impacted negatively. Those with amnestic disorder can usually still comprehend written and spoken language, and they can even learn how to ride a bike or play an instrument. Many even understand that a memory disorder is impacting them.

Your clients might ask you if amnesia is the same thing as dementia, but the answer is no. Dementia can include loss of memories, but it also features other complications with thinking that result in a combined decline in how someone functions on a daily basis. These issues include visual-spatial skills, language abilities, and personal judgment. Memory loss can be a frequent symptom of milder forms of cognitive impairment that aren’t as severe as dementia.


In order to diagnose amnestic disorder, a comprehensive evaluation is crucial. A healthcare provider has to consider other potential causes of memory loss and then rule them out. These include brain tumors, depression, Alzheimer’s, and other kinds of dementia. The healthcare provider should also analyze the client’s detailed medical history. Since a person with memory loss might be incapable of providing thorough information, they might need a caregiver, friend, or family member to offer this. The client needs to be asked certain questions, including what kind of memory loss is taking place, whether it’s short- or long-term, when it started, and how it progressed. Factors that might play a role include the use of drugs or alcohol, a family history of neurological disease, surgery, stroke, or head injuries.

It might be necessary to conduct cognitive testing as part of the diagnostic process. This exam might involve tests for recent memory, long-term recollection, judgment, and thinking. Questions might ask about current and former presidents, personal information, and repeating lists of words. This sort of memory evaluation can ascertain how far memory loss has transpired and offer insights into potential treatments.

Your client might also need to undergo diagnostic testing. Imaging tests, such as CT or MRI scans, might detect damage to the brain, and they can also notice changes that might include shrinkage. Seizure activity might present itself through an electroencephalogram. Blood tests can measure issues ranging from nutritional deficiencies to infection.

Treatment for Amnestic Disorder

Treatment for amnestic disorder often emphasizes strategies and coping mechanisms to make up for missing memories. Determining underlying diseases or issues possibly causing the amnesia can help drive treatment choices and decisions that help your clients manage their condition or possibly recover from it. Unfortunately, much is still unknown about the human brain. Some amnesia victims never recover their memories, and others who do might do so spontaneously in a seemingly random fashion. As such, treatment often focuses on managing the condition as-is or preventing further deterioration. 

In many cases, occupational therapy can be helpful. A client might be able to learn and retain new information that replaces what they originally lost. They might even be able to use memories known to be intact as a foundation for consuming new information and forming new memories. Memory training might also involve strategies for information organization that make it easier to remember things so they can understand conversations with others.

Many clients with amnestic disorder find it helpful to utilize technological assistance. These options often involve retail technology that is available without a prescription. Smartphones, handheld tablets, and electronic organizers can help afflicted individuals with maintaining personal responsibilities and daily tasks. Digital reminders and alarms can be set for medications and events to attend. Analog memory aids might include wall calendars, images of places and people, or notebooks.

The Accuracy of ICD-10 Codes Is Crucial

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of ICD-10 codes for all parties involved in the healthcare system. These codes matter to you as a professional, your clients, and other caregivers or treatment professionals that you need to communicate with. Given this, it’s crucial that you consistently use proper and accurate codes for diagnosed conditions. This applies to both your own internal office notes and any documentation shared with a client or other parties.

One of the advantages, if you use the right tools, is that information about the associated condition can be shared with clients nearly automatically and accurately so they can learn more about their conditions. The second primary benefit to clients is that their insurance carrier is likely to have a list of preapproved tests and treatment techniques for an officially diagnosed condition. Plus, the corresponding code expedites authorization and reimbursement for costs associated with helping your clients improve or manage their conditions.

Other healthcare professionals are also going to use the same ICD-10 code system. This system operates nationally but is also part of a global effort to track data and information, and that makes it a common language among healthcare professionals in over a hundred countries. If your clients have other careers, they can look at your notes and know immediately which condition to look up and respond to based on the specific codes involved.

Work Smarter With AutoNotes

Your work involves dealing with a lot of paperwork, and you have to generate a lot of it personally. These responsibilities aren’t just professional in nature, as many of your documentation obligations are due to industry rules and laws at both state and federal levels. The more time you spend writing notes, the less time you spend with your clients. However, AutoNotes is an AI-enabled tool you can use to come up with DAP notes, SOAP notes, and treatment plans in less time and with more accuracy. Let us help you spend more time working with clients while also enabling better communication with their insurance carriers and other care providers.