CPT Coding Overview
For outpatient coding, the CPT code book consists of 3 main areas:
-CPT Codes, arranged by section, then numerically (CODES)
-Alphabetical index (INDEX)
-Guidelines, (GUIDE) both overall and specific for each section found in the CODES portion of the book

Current Procedural Terminology, Fourth Edition (CPT or CPT-4) codes are used by physicians, hospitals, and other health care professionals to report specific medical, surgical, and diagnostic services provided in the delivery of patient care.

The CPT coding system is organized and maintained by the American Medical Association (AMA). There is a major update cycle each fall, with the release of code additions, revisions, and deletions. These changes take effect each January 1st. As of 2005, there is no longer a 60 day grace period, adding importance to having books and software update and in hand before this deadline date.

The CPT codes are assigned to one of six major areas that appear in the book in this order:

-Evaluation and Management
-Pathology and Laboratory

There are two additional areas for codes that allow for the collection of data as follows:

-Category II codes will document code data for performance measurement
-Category III codes will document data for emerging technology services and procedures

Unlike the ICD coding system that contains 3 digit category codes, followed by 4th or 5th digit subcategory codes with more specific diagnostic information, the CPT coding system is characterized by a 5 digit system. All CPT codes are numerical with the exception of Category II and III codes. Category II codes end with the letter 'F' and Category III codes end with the letter 'T'.

There are just over 10,000 active CPT codes to be found in the CODES section. The alphabetical index contains over 25,000 entries which then refer to the codes section for final analysis prior to billing.