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Inputting error – International Clinical terminology READ codes explained

02 September 2016.

To be attributed to Ministry of Social Development National Commissioner Penny Rounthwaite

Work and Income provides financial support for people who are unable to work due to health conditions or disabilities.

Work obligations do not apply to people whose medical conditions or circumstances prevent them from working or looking for work.

We understand that illnesses can have a significant impact on the ability of a person to continue working, which is why work exemptions can be made on the advice of medical professionals.

Medical clinicians make the decisions about whether people are ready for work and, if so, what they are capable of doing.

Ms Cheyne

We require Medical Certificates to be completed which determine an individual’s work capability.

These certificates use READ codes – a standardised clinical terminology code system that allows recording of a vast range of personal detail, including symptoms, test results, procedures performed, diagnoses, as well as characteristics such as occupation, social circumstances, and family makeup.

Work and Income maintains a list of over 42,000 codes. These codes are not limited to describing reasons for work incapacity. A READ code could be used to describe anything from parental marital problems, to exercise habits, to health conditions.

READ codes are used by government agencies, healthcare providers, insurance providers, and other agencies, both in New Zealand and internationally.

In Ms Cheyne’s case, we made an error inputting the correct code for work incapacity. We have fixed this, and have today apologised to Ms Cheyne for any distressed caused.

On 9 August, Ms Cheyne advised she would be returning to work. As a result we updated her file to reflect that this would impact on her benefit.

On 25 August she let us know she hadn’t started work, and this was reversed - before any benefit payments could be impacted.

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