What ICD-10 Code is for Unspecified Disorder of Psychological Development?

Explaining the ICD-10 Code for Unspecified Disorder of Psychological Development

What Is an ICD-10 Code?

The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition, or ICD-10, is a system used to classify medical conditions and sort them by type. It is administered by the World Health Organization. Some healthcare facilities may use the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) instead of or in addition to ICD-10 codes, although the ICD-10 is the current global standard and has a wider range than the DSM-V. 

What Are the Benefits of Using ICD-10 Codes?

There are many benefits to using the ICD-10 standard, including the billing of insurance companies. Instead of having to explain every diagnosis or write out an explanation of symptoms, the billing departments for hospitals, private practices, and any other type of medical facility simply need to write the standardized three-digit alphanumeric code. It won’t guarantee that the process will go smoothly, of course, but it does streamline it considerably.

It can also be a useful tool for communicating a diagnosis where a language or other communication barrier exists. A medical professional in a non-English-speaking country who only speaks French, for example, might not understand “Factitious disorder imposed on self, with combined psychological and physical signs and symptoms” but will know what it means when they see “ICD-10 F68.13.”

How Are ICD-10 Codes Different From DSM-V Codes?

In many parts of the United States, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, or DSM-5, is the preferred classification system for psychological disorders. However, in most other parts of the world, ICD-10 is used more commonly. 

The main difference is that the DSM strictly deals with mental disorders and the ICD-10 covers a wider variety of conditions. Child psychological disorders are covered in the second and third sections of the DSM-5.

What Is an Unspecified Disorder of Psychological Development?

Unspecified disorder of psychological development is generally a diagnosis of exclusion, which means that the child’s symptoms do not directly correspond to a single developmental disorder. However, there is still reason to believe that their development is being hindered. 

It can also be used when the specific nature of the developmental delay is irrelevant. For example, imagine a preschool-age child whose symptoms could fit two or three separate and potentially unrelated conditions. However, the treatment for all three is therapy and possibly medication of the same type and dosage. In this instance, knowing the exact condition is not necessary to begin treatment and can eventually be narrowed down as time goes on.

What Is the ICD-10 Code for Unspecified Disorder of Psychological Development?

The ICD-10 code for unspecified disorder of psychological development is F89. It is often confused with, although not the same as, F88, which is “other disorder of psychological development.” It is part of the F80 – F89 series, which covers pervasive and specific developmental disorders. 

Symptoms of Unspecified Disorder of Psychological Development

As this condition is primarily a diagnosis of exclusion, there is no exact set of symptoms that every client will have, hence “unspecified disorder.”

However, there are several signs that the client will exhibit that could lead to the diagnosis of a developmental disorder. Common examples include being nonverbal, not being able to distinguish colors, or an older toddler not being able to walk.

The client, generally a child or a teenager, generally presents as completely normal from a physical standpoint. However, at least one or more psychological and developmental milestones will not have been reached by the expected age. 

For example, imagine a child who can’t walk by the age of 4. An X-ray and an MRI both reveal no damage to their legs, and their brain scans show that there are no physical or nervous system issues that would prevent the child from walking normally. Nevertheless, the child can’t walk. This suggests that something psychological has prevented this ordinary milestone from occurring. 

These signs usually develop before the child first enters school, although they may not be noticed right away or be considered serious. If a parent believes their child is simply “a slow learner,” or one or both parents went through something similar at their age if the issue is genetic in nature, they might not recognize that there is an issue at all. 

In cases like this, it can be particularly difficult to distinguish between normal childhood (mis)behavior and a psychological development disorder. Nearly all children throw tantrums when they don’t get their way or aren’t allowed to have dessert without finishing dinner. However, excessive tantrum-throwing can be a sign of a developmental disorder, and it may be difficult for parents to accept that their child has such a condition.

Another concern that can arise if the specific cause is unknown is when a child exhibits different symptoms at different times. For example, some children may be combative or aggressive, some may not speak at all, and others might switch between the two. Parents might not be able to tell if their child is simply acting out or suffering from a condition. However, if their child is speaking with a pediatric psychologist, the odds are usually pretty good that something is going wrong at home.

What Causes Unspecified Disorder of Psychological Development?

There are many potential reasons why a child’s psychological development could be hindered, some of which are more difficult to treat than others. Young children exposed to high levels of the heavy metal cadmium, for example, are three times as likely to experience learning difficulties and require specialized education. 

Another potential cause is a genetic malformation inside the brain or other birth defect that prevents signals from being sent, received, or interpreted. One of the most common conditions of this type is cerebral palsy. Issues with genes and chromosomes can similarly cause decreased brain function as well. 

Poor nutrition can also be responsible as children who don’t get enough healthy foods or adequate vitamins and minerals as part of their diets are susceptible to impaired cognitive abilities. The B vitamins, in particular, play a crucial role in a child’s psychological development. It’s also important that children get enough protein in their diet, which can be supplemented with over-the-counter pills if their family follows a strict vegetarian or vegan diet. 

Although it isn’t pleasant to consider, the possibility of the child being molested or otherwise being the victim of a terrible crime must also be acknowledged. This can cause severe psychological damage, impair a child’s development, and lead a child to withdraw from social situations or exhibit any number of other symptoms. 

Differential Diagnosis

As the term is used to describe people whose presentation doesn’t fit all of the symptoms of a known condition, it is necessary to exclude all specific psychological development disorders before “unspecified disorder of psychological development” is chosen as the final diagnosis. 

The rest of the ICD-10 F80 to F89 series of developmental disorders should first be excluded. These include F80 (speech and language disorders), F81 (scholastic skills disorders, including mathematics and written communication), F82 (motor function disorders, including coordination disorders and dyspraxia), F84 (pervasive disorders like autism or Asperger’s), and F88 (other psychological development disorders). 

Autism spectrum disorders are perhaps the most common type of psychological development disorder, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that it affects one in 36 children. 

Treatment for Unspecified Disorder of Psychological Development

Due to the non-specific nature of the disorder, treatment will vary depending on the specific symptoms with which the client presents and the age of the child. However, the most common starting point is therapy, which can determine whether the cause is genetic, a trauma response, environmental, biological, or something else. 

If the cause is environmental, the child’s condition may not be reversible, but further damage can be prevented by removing the offending substance from the soil or air. Cadmium poisoning, for example, has no known antidote at this time. However, symptoms can be treated, and the child can possibly grow up to live a relatively normal life if the cause is identified early.

Although it is extremely unlikely, a benign tumor or other lesion on the brain could slow development. Surgery would normally be indicated, although more risk-averse parents may prefer a more minor cognitive impairment to be treated with therapy and medication rather than put their child under the knife, although that plan may not always be feasible. 

A trauma response is also a possibility, should the child lose a parent or sibling at a young age or if the child is a victim of molestation or other heinous offenses. First, Child Protective Services or the state equivalent should be contacted immediately regardless of whether or not the state requires it. Secondly, the child should immediately begin a therapy program to process the traumatic events. 

For other conditions, prescription medications can be used to treat symptoms, even if the exact condition is unspecified or unknown. Antipsychotics, antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, stimulants, or mood-stabilizing drugs can be used to treat root causes and get the child’s development back on track. Conditions similar to attention deficit disorder, for example, are often treated with stimulants.

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