College of American Pathologists
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  CPT Questions


cap today



November 2007

Q. Can we charge CPT code 83912, Molecular diagnostics; interpretation and report, more than once if independent procedures, which require separate interpretation, are necessary to produce a final assay result?

A. According to CPT 2007, "Codes 83890-83914 are coded by procedure rather than analyte. Code separately for each procedure used in an analysis."

There is considerable physician time invested in interpreting each nucleic acid-based procedure in molecular assays that require more than one procedure to yield a final result of demonstrated clinical significance for patient management. Therefore, more than one unit of 83912-26 may be reported for the physician interpretation and report of separate molecular diagnostic procedures.

Q. I process some of the material I get from a fine-needle aspiration by placing it in CytoLyt fixative and making a ThinPrep slide. Can I charge for the FNA using CPT code 88112, Cytopathology, selective cellular enhancement technique with interpretation (eg, liquid based slide preparation method), except cervical or vaginal, as well as code 88173, Cytopathology, evaluation of fine needle aspirate; interpretation and report?

A. No. CPT code 88173 has a technical component (-TC) and a professional service component (-26). The technical component includes the costs of processing and screening the material in an enhanced cellular recovery process—for example, using a ThinPrep slide preparation—in addition to staining and reviewing smears. Therefore, you cannot also charge code 88112 for processing the FNA material.

Frequently asked questions about CPT are published bimonthly in "Capitol Scan." This section of CAP TODAY is a product of the CAP Economic Affairs Committee. The codes and descriptions listed here are from Current Procedural Terminology, 4th ed., CPT 2007. CPT 2007 is copyrighted by the American Medical Association. To purchase CPT books, call the AMA at 800-621-8335. For more information about CPT coding, visit the CAP Web site and go to Reference Resources and Publications/CPT Coding.