What Is a CPT Code?

The current procedural terminology, or CPT, code is medical coding that was established and maintained by the American Medical Association. The code was established to increase efficiency and accuracy.

CPT coding is a uniform language that allows medical care providers to document surgical, medical and diagnostic services. The code is five digits, beginning with the code "00100." The code is also used by both private and public health insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. The use of the codes helps to streamline processes, such as claims processing. The code was first used in 1966. The first edition of codes focused primarily on surgical procedures. The second edition of the codes introduced the use of five digits. Previously, four digits were used.

In 1983, the coding was officially recognized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The agency required that all providers reporting services had to use the coding. An editorial panel consisting of 17 members maintains the codes. Of the panel members, 11 are physicians who must be approved by the AMA's Board of Trustees. In order to request a change to the coding, an application must be submitted to the panel. The panel meets three times a year.