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CPT Coding Guide

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Current procedural terminology (CPT) is a standardized coding system and universal language used to detail medical information and practices within the health-care field. Established by the American Medical Association, CPT codes convey data pertaining to the diagnosis, diseases, injuries, procedures, protocols, symptoms and treatments of a patient.


A solid understanding of human anatomy and physiology, diseases and conditions and medical terminology is needed to locate and assign CPT codes.


The CPT system or manual is divided into the following segments: section headings, subsections, categories, subcategories, guidelines, symbols, colons and semicolons, modifiers, appendices, indices and examples.

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Three different CPT categories exist. Category I CPT codes are for services and procedures rendered. Category II CPT codes are used to gather and record quality data (these codes are optional), and Category III consists of temporary codes to chart new technology.


Under the three main categories are specific code divisions and subsections. For example, Category I divides into evaluation and management, anesthesia, surgery, radiology, pathology and laboratory and medicine. The subsections within the evaluation and management division include consultations, home services, office or other outpatient services

Code Numbers

The written descriptions (sections) are translated into numeric codes; specific sets of numbers correspond to the area that the code pertains to. For example, the numbers 10000-69999 indicate that the CPT code pertains to a surgical procedure.

About the Author

Serena Spinello holds two master’s degrees and is pursuing her Ph.D. in medical science. She has been a professional writer and researcher for over 10 years and is an active member of the American Medical Writers Association, Academy of Medical Educators, and the National Association of Social Workers.

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