What’s the Repetition Separator Character in 5010 X12?

The Repetition Separator Character was introduced in version 5010 of the HIPAA implementation guide.


This character is located in ISA11 of the HIPAA 5010 implementation guide.  Previously ISA11 was used to hold the Interchange Controls Version Number ( ex: 4010).  The ISA segment still remains a fixed length segment at 106 characters.


The purpose of the Repetition Separator Character is to make EDI development more complex than it really is.  Why with all the things we have to remember about delimiters and all that why wouldn’t we want to see more complexity?  We’re just kidding of course.  The Repetition Separator Character actually makes things a little easier when you need to group similar adjacent element values together without using extra segments.  So in a way it really serves two purposes; to group data together and to reduce the number of segments.  The last reason we made up 🙂  We just noticed that it does this.  Let’s look at at an example.

DMG – Patient Demographic Information

Segment DMG is used to report demographic information about the patient.  This information can include gender, marital status and race.  DMG05 is used to report race.  It accepts the following values:

A = Asian or Pacific Islander
B = Black
C = Caucasian
D = Subcontinent Asian American
E = Other Race or Ethnicity
F = Asian Pacific American

In some cases one value is not enough to uniquely identify the patient’s race.  This is where the Repetition Separator Character can be used.  One or more of the accepted values can be combined.  For example:


Even though this is just a simple example you can clearly see how much more useful the ability to combine data elements are.

Composite Elements

The Repetition Separator Character can be used to combine composite data elements as well.  For example:


Here we see that CLM05, Health Care Service Location Information, is repeated.

RDPCrystal EDI Library not only processes the Repetition Separator Character it also validates them to make sure the contain the correct values.

What else can we add to this blog to make it more helpful?


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