CHICAGO — To bridge language barriers and make health care more inclusive and transparent for patients who speak Spanish, the American Medical Association (AMA) now offers Spanish language descriptors for more than 11,000 medical procedures and services. The consumer-friendly descriptors in Spanish were added to the newly released Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) 2024 code set, the nation’s leading data-sharing terminology for medical procedures and services.

The consumer-friendly descriptors are an important resource that many hospitals, health plans, medical offices and other CPT users already incorporate into English-language medical documents, insurance forms, price sheets, and patient portals. Including CPT consumer-friendly descriptors in Spanish that are clear and straightforward will help CPT users better engage and assist many in the Latinx community.

“Navigating medical care and paperwork can be especially challenging for Latinx patients who do not speak English or speak English as a second language,” said AMA Senior Vice President of Health Solutions Lori Prestesater. “Providing approximately 41 million Spanish speaking individuals in the United States with an easy-to-understand description of medical procedures and services can help build a more inclusive health care environment, where language is no longer a barrier and patients can actively engage in their own care.”

Other changes to the CPT code set

The annual update to the CPT code set created 349 editorial changes, including 230 additions, 49 deletions and 70 revisions. With 11,163 codes that describe the medical procedures and services available to patients, the CPT code set continues to grow and evolve with the rapid pace of innovation in medical science and health technology.

Changes to the CPT code set are considered through an open editorial process managed by the CPT Editorial Panel, an independent body convened by the AMA that collects broad input from the health care community and beyond to ensure CPT content reflects the coding and data-driven demands of a modern health care system. This rigorous editorial process keeps the CPT code set current with contemporary medical science and technology so it can fulfill its vital role as the trusted language of medicine today and the code to its future.

Among the important CPT changes for 2024 are the consolidation of over 50 previous codes that streamline the reporting of immunizations for COVID-19. The CPT Editorial Panel also approved the provisional codes (91318-91322) to identify monovalent vaccine products from Moderna and Pfizer for immunization against COVID-19. The provisional codes will be effective for use when the monovalent vaccine products from Moderna and Pfizer receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In addition, a new vaccine administration code (90480) was approved for reporting the administration of any COVID-19 vaccine for any patient, replacing all previously approved product specific vaccine administration codes.

Other novel additions to the CPT code set respond to product-specific innovations in the prevention of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) that causes acute respiratory infection in individuals of all age groups. Five new CPT codes have been created to report product specific RSV immunizations (90380, 90381, 90683, 90679, and 90678) for better tracking, reporting and analysis that supports data-driven planning and allocation.

Clarifications sought by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also prompted the CPT Editorial Panel to add revisions to the CPT 2024 code set that clarify the reporting of evaluation and management (E/M) services. The revisions include:

  • Removal of time ranges from office or other outpatient visit codes (99202-99205, 99212-99215) and aligned the format with other E/M codes,
  • A definition to determine the “substantive portion” of a split/shared E/M visit in which a physician and a non-physician practitioner work jointly to furnish all the work related to the visit, and
  • Instructions for reporting hospital inpatient or observation care services and admission and discharge services for the use of codes 99234-99236 when the patient stay crosses over two calendar dates.

CPT content & resources

To assist the national health care system in an orderly annual transition to a newly modified CPT code set, the AMA releases each new edition four months ahead of the Jan. 1 operational date and develops an additional resource, CPT Changes 2024: An Insider’s View, that explores all the novel changes in the code set.

The AMA invites the health care community to the world’s only medical coding event delivered by the authority on the CPT code set. Get guidance on the updates for the CPT 2024 code set by virtually attending the CPT & RBRVS 2024 Annual Symposium in November. Meeting agendas and registration are available on the AMA website.

For more information, a special section for CPT education has been created for the AMA Ed Hub™, an online learning platform containing continuing medical education, including a learning module series covering an overview of CPT coding basics and other topics. The CPT Network is also available for authoritative CPT coding guidance.

Coding books and products are available from the AMA Storefront on Amazon, including the CPT 2024 Professional Edition codebook. CPT data products, including the CPT 2024 Standard Data File, are available via the AMA Intelligent Platform. The data file contains an entire package of six descriptor types for the 2024 code set, including CPT consumer-friendly descriptors in Spanish. It also incorporates section guidelines, along with a complete set of appendices.

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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.