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How are the DSM-IV diagnostic codes used?

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DSM-IV diagnostic codes are used for billing purposes and to help mental health care agencies collect data, according to the American Psychiatric Association. The codes are assigned based on the health care coding system in the United States called the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Edition, Clinical Modification, or ICD-9-CM.

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An example of a diagnostic code in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is 309.24, which is the code assigned to a patient suffering from an adjustment disorder coupled with anxiety, as of 2015, explains Psych Central. Another example is 296.46, which is assigned when a patient has bipolar I disorder in the full remission stage with the most recent episode being a manic episode. Conversely, patients with the same disorder and stage but whose most recent episode was depressive receive code 296.56.

A psychiatric patient with a history of alcohol-related problems may receive one of several DSM codes depending on the nature of the diagnosis, notes Psych Central. Someone diagnosed with alcohol abuse receives code 305.00, while a patient diagnosed with alcohol dependence gets code 303.90. Another possible diagnosis is alcohol-induced anxiety disorder, which corresponds with code 291.8. An alcohol-induced psychotic disorder has code 291.5 if the patient experiences delusions and code 291.3 if the patient hallucinates.

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