Notice that new sign in your CPT book? No, that hash mark’s not to delete a message or to sign into a conference; it’s to alert you to an out of order code.
The “#” works like a flashing yellow light: Slow down, there might be something unexpected. Rather than moving groups of codes to new sections, the AMA has created another option. “Resequencing makes a lot of sense to avoid renumbering the codes,” explained William T. Thorwarth, Jr., MD, in “CPT 2010 Overview” at the CPT and RBRVS 2010 Annual Symposium’s opening session in Chicago.
Watch for the Out of Order Placard
When you’re coding a lesion excision, you usually assume the code increases by one as the excision’s size class goes up. But that truism will no longer hold true. Fortunately, watching for # will alert you to these inconsistencies. Read more for examples …
Example: The AMA wanted to break up the soft tissue neck excision parent code 21566 into two different size based codes. Since 21566 is right next to 21567, there’s no space for another code using numerical sequencing. Instead, the AMA chose available numbers that were close to those used so that the section reads:
21555 — Excision, tumor, soft tissue of neck or anterior thorax, subcutaneous; less than 3 cm
#21552 — … 3 cm or less
21556 — Excision, tumor, soft tissue of neck or anterior thorax, deep, subfascial, (e.g., less than 5 cm)
#21554 — … 5 cm or greater
21557 — Radical resection of tumor (e.g., malignant neoplasm), soft tissue of neck or anterior thorax; less than 5 cm.
“Before the new code symbol, we added a new symbol so you readily identify out of number codes,” Peter A. Hollmann, MD, said in the symposium’s final...
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