What is CPT Codes?

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What is CPT Codes?

In 1966, the American Medical Association or AMA decided to come up with a coding system that would be used in record keeping. The initial purpose was to record the cause of death in patients and help in identifying which were the leading causes of death. Today the codes are still in use though they are now applied in recording every service and procedure that a medical practitioner carries out on a patient. The AMA is the sole body that holds the copyright to these codes and is mandated with the maintenance, development and distribution of the codes.

Current Procedural Terminology codes, more commonly known as CPT codes are the official medical records language in the United States. They are a uniform, definitive and unique set of numbers that describe each medical procedure or service that a medical practitioner can offer a patient. The CPT codes make record keeping a much simpler task and less labor intensive. Instead of lengthy descriptions, a simple standard code is used in the records. This system also makes it possible to quickly go through the medical history of a patient in case of emergency or when they change medical care providers. There are several categories and versions of CPT codes in use today. Each year the AMA reviews and releases the most current categories and versions upon which previous versions cease to be effective.

CPT codes are also especially useful to insurers and other such interested third parties. Reimbursement for doctors and hospitals is easily and effectively calculated in a standardized manner. For this reason it is very important to have qualified coders working on patient records since a slight mistake could even be fatal as it may one day be used as reference. There are also thousands of codes with some of them being almost similar. An influenza vaccine shot has more than 10 different codes which depend on the type of vaccine that is used and how it is administered. Coders must be able to competently handle all this.

CPT codes are also very important in medical referencing. By use of these codes doctors, organizations, government and researchers are able to keep track of diseases, treatments and their effectiveness under various circumstances. This makes it possible to anticipate and plan for healthcare at all levels. Doctors can also compare their approach and treatment to that of their peers in a fast and effective manner. CPT codes are also instrumental in keeping the confidentiality of medical records. Anyone who looks at medical records without training in the field will not make much sense of what is in these files.

CPT codes are continually being revised and today accommodate medical as well as non medical procedures as long as they are procured from a medical practitioner. All these procedures must be approved by the FDA and carried out by a qualified and licensed medical professional. CPT codes are a professional language that the AMA has developed over the years to help improve service delivery by healthcare providers.

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