In August 2021, the internet was swept up in another viral challenge as a plethora of videos went viral that showed people attempting to walk across increasingly higher levels of milk crates. As nearly all of these videos ended with someone suffering a violent fall, many people were prone to believe the rumor that hospitals had created a new International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) code to specifically address milk crate falls.
This rumor was widely spread in a viral TikTok video:
someone said y’all acting like you got universal healthcare 😐 #donttrythisathome
There is not a new ICD-10 code to specifically address milk crate falls. This rumor started as a joke on Twitter by a meme account:
ICD-10: W17.9 – Fall from stacked milk crates
— Code Blue Memes (@codebluememes) August 24, 2021
The ICD is a diagnostic tool maintained by the World Health Organization. WHO writes:
ICD is the foundation for the identification of health trends and statistics globally, and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. It is the diagnostic classification standard for all clinical and research purposes. ICD defines the universe of diseases, disorders, injuries and other related health conditions, listed in a comprehensive, hierarchical fashion that allows for:
- Easy storage, retrieval and analysis of health information for evidenced-based decision-making
- Sharing and comparing health information between hospitals, regions, settings and countries
- Data comparisons in the same location across different time periods
We searched WHO’s database of ICD codes but could not find anything specifically related to a fall from a milk crate. We also searched the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) version of this database (ICD-10-CM) but again found no such code.
The W17 prefix is used for falls in this database and can be used to signify everything from a fall from a grocery cart (W17.82XA) to a fall down a hill (W17.81XA), but there is no code for falling off a milk crate.
It should also be noted that while there have been a number of editions of this database (the 10 in ICD-10 stands for the 10th edition), these codes are not updated in real time to address viral trend on TikTok. The World Health Organization did add a series of emergency codes in 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Falling off milk crates has not yet reached emergency status.
While there is no ICD code yet for this specific brand of falls, that doesn’t mean that doctors aren’t concerned about this new challenge. The Guardian reported:
As videos of people falling painfully go viral on social media and rack up millions of views, doctors across the US are coming out to warn people of the dangerous injuries that can occur.
“It’s perhaps even worse than falling from a ladder,” said Shawn Anthony, an orthopedic surgeon at Mount Sinai hospital in New York, to the Washington Post. “It’s very difficult to brace yourself from the falls I’ve seen in these videos. They’re putting their joints at an even higher risk for injury,” he added.
We reached out to the WHO and CDC for more details and we will update this article accordingly.
Classification of Diseases (ICD). https://www.who.int/standards/classifications/classification-of-diseases. Accessed 25 Aug. 2021.
Emergency Use ICD Codes for COVID-19 Disease Outbreak. https://www.who.int/standards/classifications/classification-of-diseases/emergency-use-icd-codes-for-covid-19-disease-outbreak. Accessed 25 Aug. 2021.
“Milk Crate Challenge Has Doctors Warning It’s ‘Worse than Falling from a Ladder.’” The Guardian, 25 Aug. 2021, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/aug/25/milk-crate-challenge-tiktok-doctors-warnings.