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COVID-19: New Serologic Testing Codes Explained in Special CPT® Assistant
2020-04-28

Don’t miss the authoritative guidance for new COVID-19 testing codes in CPT® Assistant Special Edition: April Update. This bonus issue is now available on SuperCoder Code Connect. And because of the importance of this update, the American Medical Association (AMA) has also posted the special edition online, including a link on AMA’s COVID-19 coding and guidance page.

What’s it about? The AMA CPT® Editorial Panel added two new codes (and revised another) to provide more specific codes for serologic lab testing. The AMA published the updates April 10, 2020, and they are effective immediately.

  • Revised code, underlined text added: 86318 (Immunoassay for infections agent antibody(ies), qualitative or semiquantitative, single step method (eg, reagent strip);
  • New code: #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]))
  • New code: 86769 (Antibody; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease [COVID-19]))

In addition to the code changes, CPT® Assistant also alerts you to related updates to guidelines and instructions. For example, a note with single-step method code 86328 points you to 86769 for multi-step method testing.

The special edition includes clinical examples and procedure descriptions for the new codes, as well, pointing out that the information may change as knowledge of COVID-19 evolves.

A Q&A section at the end of the special edition is a must-read, addressing some of the questions you may have when using the codes, such as whether you can report 86769 for each antibody (hint: check whether multiple assays were performed for antibodies of different immunoglobulin classes) and how to report point of care testing (it’s not one-size-fits-all).

These code and guideline changes will be published in the Immunology subsection of the CPT® 2021 code set’s Pathology and Laboratory section. But, because they are effective immediately, they are searchable now in SuperCoder online coding packages.