AMA Creates CPT Codes for Combination COVID-19/Flu Tests
By David Doolittle


The American Medical Association (AMA) has created two new Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes for multi-virus testing to detect COVID-19 and influenza.

The new codes, which have been approved for immediate use, are:

  • 87636: Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA); severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease [COVID-19]) and influenza virus types A and B, multiplex amplified probe technique.
  • 87637: Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA); severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease [COVID-19]), influenza virus types A and B, and respiratory syncytial virus, multiplex amplified probe technique.

“Two of the newly approved codes report nucleic acid assays that allow a single test to simultaneously detect the novel coronavirus and a combination of common viral infectious agents, including influenza A/B and respiratory syncytial virus,” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD, an allergist who practices in Fort Worth.

Flu season is right around the corner, and a flu vaccine already is being administered across Texas. Physicians are encouraged to remind patients to receive a vaccine as soon as possible.

In addition, AMA also revised CPT codes 87301 through 87430 to remove the term “multi-step method” from code descriptors, including CPT code 87426, which AMA has said is the “industry standard” for COVID-19 antigen testing.

“The revision clarifies the proper reporting for antigen tests that are read by a machine, as compared to those which can be visually interpreted without a machine,” AMA said.

AMA also has created new codes to streamline COVID-19 testing, including “a new code to describe the additional supplies and clinical staff time required to mitigate transmission of respiratory infectious disease while providing evaluation, treatment, or procedural services during a public health emergency.”

AMA in September released its 2021 CPT code set, which includes major revisions to office and other outpatient evaluation and management (E&M) services designed to decrease physician documentation requirements.   

You can find more tools, resources, and information on the practice viability section of the TMA COVID-19 Resource Center.  

CPT copyright American Medical Association. All rights reserved. 

Last Updated On

October 15, 2020

Originally Published On

October 15, 2020

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David Doolittle


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Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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