Are you spooked by the idea of visiting your doctor’s office on Halloween? Don’t worry; it might be more common than you think. Iatrophobia, or the fear of medical care, is a legitimate condition recognized in the ICD-10-CM classification system. This article explores the mysterious world of iatrophobia and its intriguing link to the Halloween season.
Iatrophobia and its Ghostly Fear
Iatrophobia is an irrational and intense fear of doctors or medical tests. According to My Cleveland Clinic, an individual may avoid the care of a physician even when very ill due to extreme anxiety or panic attacks. Just the thought of getting medical tests can cause fear to set in like the spookiest of Halloween nights.
Physicians, like most people, like to get in on the fun. Meet Dr. Bones, the resident “doctor-zilla” who examines X-rays while decked out in full Halloween attire! He’s the ultimate “boo-ne” health expert. A dose of humor is often the best antidote for this peculiar phobia. 🙂
The term “Iatrophobia” is derived from the Greek words “iatros,” meaning healer, and “phobos,” meaning fear. Iatrophobia is also known by other names, such as “fear of doctors” and “white coat syndrome,” as noted by DoveMed.
While precise statistics for Iatrophobia are scarce, a survey reveals that 1 in 3 Americans avoids seeing a doctor when needed. The fear may have intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily due to concerns about contracting the virus.
Causes of Iatrophobia
The exact causes of Iatrophobia are not fully understood, though early experiences, such as childhood vaccinations, could play a role. Additional risk factors include subpar medical care, traumatic experiences, chronic illnesses, and a family history of phobias and anxiety disorders.
Other Phobias Associated with Iatrophobia
Those with Iatrophobia may also deal with other phobias, such as fear of dentists (dentophobia), cancer (carcinophobia), heart diseases (cardiophobia), enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), blood (hemophobia), germs (mysophobia), hospitals (nosocomephobia), diseases (nosophobia), medication (pharmacophobia), death (thanatophobia), medical procedures (tomophobia), injury (traumatophobia), and needles (trypanophobia).
Individuals with a fear of physicians often know the phobia is illogical, but they can still experience physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms. These can range from extreme anxiety and panic attacks to avoidance of medical care and persistent, distressing thoughts about medical procedures.
Mental health professionals, such as psychologists and psychiatrists, typically diagnose Iatrophobia through comprehensive evaluations, considering the patient’s symptoms, clinical history, and psychological assessments. This process helps rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.
Treatment options may vary according to the individual’s needs, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, relaxation techniques, and medication.
Coding For Iatrophobia in ICD-10-CM
In the ICD-10-CM coding manual, Iatrophobia can be found in Chapter 5 (Mental, Behavioral, and Neurodevelopmental Disorders) under “Anxiety, dissociative, stress-related, somatoform, and other nonpsychotic mental disorders” as “Fear of other medical care (F40.232).”
Locate and Verify
You cannot locate the code for this diagnosis by looking up “iatrophobia” in the Index. You can try, but you will not find it. Instead, look up Phobia/specified/medical care NEC F40.232. This code can be verified in the Tabular as:
F40.232, Fear of other medical care
– Fear associated with healthcare
– Specific phobia, other medical care
Pay attention to the following instructional notes at F40.232:
Excludes2:dysmorphophobia (nondelusional) (F45.22)
Includes: disorders of psychological development
Excludes2: symptoms, signs, and abnormal clinical laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified (R00-R99)
Just as Halloween encourages us to face our phobias in a playful manner, individuals with iatrophobia can hopefully find comfort in knowing there is a treatment that can make the condition more manageable. Furthermore, as a coder, you can confidently assign the correct code for this illness when you come across it in your documentation.
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