Coding Thanksgiving Emergencies

You may have heard that emergency department (ED) visits spike during the holidays—higher than normal alcohol intake, contaminated poultry, and a habit of straying from doctor’s orders are leading culprits, according to ED docs. If you’re a coder stuck working on Thanksgiving this year the Journal has you covered. And if you’re heading off to Grandma’s house or throwing a Friendsgiving, eat, drink, and be merry—cautiously!

According to The Atlantic, as of 2013, Texas was the top state, seven years running, for grease and cooking related insurance claims on Thanksgiving. As deep frying turkeys have become more popular, fire departments across the country have put out advisories on safe deep fryer use around the holiday.


  • T23.202A—Second degree burn to left hand
  • T23.201A—Second degree burn to right hand
  • T22.212A—Second degree burn to left forearm
  • T22.211A—Second degree burn to right forearm
  • X10.2XXA—Contact with hot cooking oil
  • Y93.G9—Activity involving cooking and grilling
  • Y92.014—Occurred in the driveway of the single-family home (residence)


Drying dishes after the meal, a heavy Corningware casserole dish can easily slip through a dish towel.



  • S90.112A—Contusion to left great toe
  • W20.8XXA—Struck by falling object
  • Y93.G1—Dishwashing
  • Y92.010—Occurred in the kitchen of a single-family home (residence)


Watch out for those flimsy can openers when you’re cracking open the canned cranberries.


  • S61.019A—Thumb laceration
  • W26.8XXA —Contact with tin can lid
  • Y93.G3—Activity, cooking and baking
  • Y93.G1—Activity, food preparation and clean up
  • Y92.010—Occurred in the kitchen of a single-family home (residence)



Be careful of intoxication from indulging in cooking wine or whiskey—perhaps when following a boozy cranberry sauce recipe.


  • F10.129—Alcohol intoxication
  • Y93.G3—Cooking and baking
  • Y92.010—Occurred at the person’s residence which was a single-family house, in the kitchen



According to NPR and FiveThirtyEight, football-related injuries are often seen in the ED on Thanksgiving. To prevent injuries, their investigation stressed the importance of stretching before playing and saving the beer for after the game.


  • R06.89—Other breathing abnormalities, aka, the sensation that you just got the wind knocked out of you
  • W03.XXXAFall on same level due to collision with another person
  • Y93.61—Football – tackle
  • Y92.017—Occurred in the yard of a single-family home (residence)


In one of the most famous episodes of the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, radio station manager Arthur Carlson orchestrates a ratings stunt that involves dropping 20 live turkeys from a helicopter, under the mistaken belief that turkeys can fly.


  • S09.90XA—Head injury
  • W61.42XA —Struck by turkey
  • Y92.481—Occurred in a parking lot


Food bolus impaction, or “steakhouse syndrome,” happens when someone eats too much food (usually meat) too quickly, causing it to be lodged in the lower esophagus. Unsurprisingly this also tends to be more common during meat-centric holidays like Thanksgiving.


  • T18.108A—Foreign body esophagus (food bolus)
  • R63.2—Polyphagia for excessive eating
  • Y92.011—Occurred in the dining room of a single-family home (residence)


Using a steam bag for your bird or cooking a side dish sous vide? Be careful not to get too close!


  • T26.11XA—Cornea burn of right eye
  • T26.12XA—Cornea burn of left eye
  • X13.1XXA—Contact with steam and other hot vapors
  • Y93.G3—Cooking and baking
  • Y92.010—Occurred at the person’s residence which was a single-family house, in the kitchen


Discussion at the dinner table can get a little heated during the holidays. If you’re someone who finds themselves getting caught up in a debate, you might find yourself with bruised shins from a well-meaning relative trying to get you to simmer down.


  • S80.11XA—Contusion of right lower leg/shin
  • W50.1XXA—Kicked by another person
  • Y92.011—Occurred in the dining room of a single-family home (residence)


Mary Butler is associate editor at Journal of AHIMA.

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