News From CHEST

Changes to CPT® codes coming January 2018


There will be a number of changes to Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) codes of interest to pulmonary/critical care providers in January 2018. A thorough understanding of these changes is important for appropriate coding and reimbursement for the services described by these codes.

There are two changes in the CPT codes for bronchoscopy involving 31645 and 31646. CPT code 31645 describes a therapeutic bronchoscopy, eg, removal of viscous, copious or tenacious secretions from the airway. It had previously included wording that suggested it was used for abscess drainage, and this has been removed. If a therapeutic bronchoscopy procedure is repeated during the same hospital stay, then CPT code 31646 should be utilized. If a therapeutic bronchoscopy procedure is performed in the non-hospital setting and later repeated, then CPT code 31645 would be used for both procedures.

CPT code 94620 Pulmonary stress testing; simple (eg, 6-minute walk test, prolonged exercise test for bronchospasm with pre- and post-spirometry and oximetry) has been deleted and replaced by two new codes. CPT code 94617 Exercise test for bronchospasm, including pre- and postspirometry, electrocardiographic recording(s), and pulse oximetry describes the procedure used to assess for exercise-induced bronchospasm. CPT code 94618 Pulmonary stress testing (eg, 6-minute walk test), including measurement of heart rate, oximetry, and oxygen titration, when performed, describes the typical simple pulmonary stress test. After January 1, 2018, if CPT code 94620 is used, the claim will be denied. CPT code 94621 Cardiopulmonary exercise testing, including measurements of minute ventilation, CO2 production, O2 uptake, and electrocardiographic recordings has been reworded to better describe the procedure of cardiopulmonary exercise testing. Additionally, there are numerous parentheticals appended that list the CPT codes that may not be used in conjunction with 94617, 94618, and 94621. Please refer to the 2018 CPT manual for further information on these exclusions.

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