CHICAGO — The American Medical Association (AMA) today announced an update to Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) that includes a new code for reporting antigen testing of patients suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
The update was approved late yesterday during a special meeting of the CPT Editorial Panel, the independent body convened by the AMA with sole authority to expedite the review of proposed changes and additions to the CPT code set.
Antigen testing is designed to be quicker and simpler than other tests for the coronavirus and could be conducted at the point of care. A breakthrough in coronavirus antigen testing could become part of the broader solution for the widespread testing shortages.
“The new CPT code for antigen testing to detect the coronavirus is the latest in a series of CPT codes developed in rapid response to the pandemic,” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, M.D. “Moving quickly during this crisis to meet the medical coding needs of the health care industry has enhanced the reporting of innovative tools now available to advance medicine's overarching goals of reducing the COVID-19 disease burden, improving health outcomes and reducing long-term care costs.”
The new code is intended for use as the industry standard for accurate reporting and tracking of antigen tests using immunofluorescent or immunochromatographic technique for the detection of biomolecules produced by the SAR-CoV-2 virus.
For quick reference, the new Category I CPT codes and long descriptors are:
- 87426 Infectious agent antigen detection by immunoassay technique, (eg, enzyme immunoassay [EIA], enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA], immunochemiluminometric assay [IMCA]) qualitative or semiquantitative, multiple-step method; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (eg, SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 [COVID-19])
In addition to the long descriptors, short and medium descriptors can be accessed on the AMA website.
The new antigen test code is the latest update to the CPT code set since the CPT Editorial Panel expedited approval of new Category I codes to report molecular testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and serological testing for COVID-19 antibodies.
- 87635 Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA); severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease [COVID-19]), amplified probe technique
- 86328 Immunoassay for infectious agent antibody(ies), qualitative or semiquantitative, single step method (eg, reagent strip); severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease [COVID-19])
- 86769 Antibody; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease [COVID-19])
Development, review and approval of the new CPT codes involved broad input from practicing physicians, commercial laboratories and other experts.
Robert J. Mills
ph: (312) 464-5970
About the American Medical Association
The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care. The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.