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Coronavirus: AMA releases new CPT code for antigen tests

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The new code was announced June 25 after a meeting of the CPT Editorial Panel.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has a release an update to the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) which includes a new code for reporting antigen testing of patients suspected to be infected with COVID-19.

The update was approved June 25 during a meeting of the CPT Editorial Panel, the independent panel with the sole authority to expedite the review of proposed changes and additions to the CPT code set, according to a news release.

Designed to be quicker and simpler than other tests for COVID-19, antigen testing can be conducted at the point of care. A breakthrough in this testing could become a part of the solution for testing shortages, the release says.

“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,” AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD, says in the release. “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 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])
  • 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])

In addition to the long descriptors, short and medium descriptors can be accessed on the AMA website.

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© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health