Every year, the American Medical Association (AMA) maintains a unique code list for use by professionals in the medical industry so that there are consistent terms applied across the country. If you plan to be a Certified Coding Specialist or obtain a Physician Based Certification it will be important for you to know the different CPT codes list types. In fact, there are three different CPT code categories that you need to be familiar with.

The CPT codes list has been in use by AMA since 1966 and consists of a list of five-digit codes used to identify a wide range of services and procedures performed by physicians in a variety of different settings. The CPT codes list can be divided into three different categories.

These are:

1.) Procedures that consistently align with contemporary medical practices and are commonly performed by medical professionals.

2.) Supplementary codes used for tracking performance measures.

3.) Temporary codes used to identify new and emerging technology, services and/or procedures. It is necessary for medical staff at all levels to understand how the codes in each category will be applied.

Category I:

Codes found in category 1 are contained in the main body of the CPT. This first group is the section that the majority of coders are most familiar with and represent the procedures that are most commonly used in the practice of medicine. They can include things like patient evaluation and different methods of managing health care, anesthesiology, surgery, radiology, pathology, and medications. These can be further broken down into more specific procedures and treatments. For example, a regular doctor’s visit could be an initial consultation or could be something as detailed as a complete physical, each one receiving its own unique 5-digit code.

Category II:

Category II codes list the supplemental treatments and procedures that a medical professional may use. Because these supplementals are consistently changing due to new HIPAA regulations, the codes must also provide a method for measuring performance. Category II codes are meant to facilitate how information is collected about the type of care delivered by any given coding number for good patient care. Category II codes are alphanumeric and generally consist of 4 digits and a letter. These codes are not needed in every patient report. However, if they are they should not be used as a substitute for Category I codes.

Category III:

Category III codes are generally considered to be temporary codes for new technology, procedures, and services being used. They are used to help AMA to collect data about how these new procedures and services are used in the medical field. These codes are slightly different from other types of codes because they are used to identify those services that may not be commonly used in every medical facility across the nation. They are five characters long with four numeric digits followed by the letter T. Category III codes will eventually be retired if the service it refers to is not converted to a category I code after five years of issuance.