Although not all codes can be selected based on time (eg, emergency department evaluation and management [E/M] services, most surgical procedures), many codes include time as the sole factor or an option for code selection. Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) includes general, category-specific, and code-specific instructions for use of time in selecting codes that include a time-based reporting option. Correct code selection depends on understanding which instructions to apply based on the type of service being reported. In this article, we review the following concepts related to CPT instructions for use of time in code selection:

The first rule of time-based code selection is that the documentation of the service provided must include the time of service (estimated total time or start and stop times). Generally, time is the face-to-face time with the patient, although certain services such as office and other outpatient E/M (99202–99205, 99212–99205...

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