Are ICD-10 categories suitable for diagnosing injuries? Multidisciplinary analyses of the English, German, and Hungarian ICD-10 diagnosis categories

Katalin Fogarasi, Alexandra Csongor, Philipp Schneider


ICD-10 is a standardized diagnostic tool of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the documentation of findings to facilitate statistical comparability. It enhances fast diagnosis documentation using a globally readable coding.  Physicians can therefore rely on a predefined, although not very complex  diagnostic formulation even if it cannot replace a detailed diagnosis. However, in cases of bodily harm, unambiguous diagnoses and highly detailed descriptions of injuries are essential to allow forensic experts to assess injuries in criminal procedures within the continental legal system. A previous study (Fogarasi, 2012) showed that forensic assessment is impaired in Germany, Hungary, and Austria when terms in the diagnoses of injuries are not explicit enough from a forensic perspective. The methodology of diagnosing injuries is not  standardised in the analysed countries. As diagnoses are primarily written for medical purposes, occasional subsequent forensic assessments of injuries may rely exclusively on the documentation, and are therefore hindered by the lack of forensic aspects. This study aims to investigate the prevalence of ICD  categories in diagnoses, and the extent to which ICD-10 categories are terminologically suitable for diagnosing injuries for subsequent forensic  assessment in Germany and Hungary. The terminology of ICD categories was examined and analysed from forensic and criminal legal perspectives. An inability of forensic assessment to determine the nature and severity of injuries with certainty may have consequences on the criminal legal procedure. LSP instructors should therefore make their students aware of the importance of acquiring and using exact terminology that would enable them to prepare  accurate documentation in their practice.


diagnoses, ICD-10 Classification, injuries, forensic assessment, criminal procedure, different degrees of terminological equivalence

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