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Sorting out errors with Read codes

There are a number of errors in the preferred Read codes aide-memoire (May 10) which do not comply with those listed in the latest version of the Department of Health's Logical Query Specification, February 2004.

•In the 'testing' section, codes 4678., 5674., and 68A1 are not in the query specification.

•In the 'medication' section all the 1s should read as capital Is.

•Under 'medication/disease review' 8CL0 is not in the query specification and 8BAV. (cancer care review) should be included instead. The description of code 66YJ. should read 'asthma annual review'. The epilepsy monitoring code 667.. is not in the query specification and the correct code for epilepsy medication review is 8BIF.

•Under 'smoking' the description of code 137L. is defined as 'current non-smoker' rather than 'ex-smoker'. The code for 'ex-smoker' is '137S.'. Clinicians tend to use the latter description for people who have given up for a considerable period and 'current non-smoker' for those trying to give up but whose long-term status is not clear.

•Under 'diagnoses' practices should keep using H3... as the general COPD code (rather than H32%).

•Under 'blood tests', practices may prefer to use 44TB. (rather than 42W%) for HbA1c in many areas where electronic path lab links exist.

The situation is particularly confusing where there is both manual input of the old code (42W%) and automatic electronic receipts of the 44TB. code. Practices must remember to use both codes when undertaking searches outside their nGMS audit tools.

Regarding the advice given in the feature on page 32 in the same issue, practices need not recode previous diagnoses of COPD which were coded H3... and 'correct' them to H32... (emphysema) as advised.

Population Manager (Emis) has this code included in its query parameters and Contract Manager (for Torex systems) must include the code to comply with the department's specification. I understand this code will be included in their next updated release.

The same applies to the advice for the recoding of hypertensive disease recorded as 'G2...'. Practices should not have to spend precious time recoding to 'G20..'.

Angela Karach

Primary Care Information Manager

Blackpool PCT

The editor replies:

The chart was based on erroneous information published by the BMA as supporting documentation to the contract and subsequently amended. A definitive list has now been published by the Department of Health.

An updated list of preferred Read codes based on this guidance appears on pages 58 and 59. However, some choices are still a matter of debate and personal preference. We apologise for any confusion.

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