Have you noticed that the “Decision Tree for New vs Established Patients” is back in Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) 2012? The American Medical Association deleted it in 2011 but has brought it back. You will find it under the Evaluation and Management (E/M) Services Guidelines section of the CPT manual.

The decision tree itself has not changed from that published in CPT 2010. However, CPT 2012 guidelines for distinguishing between new and established patients have been revised to clarify that a new patient is one who has not received any professional services from the physician or another physician of the exact same specialty and subspecialty who belongs to the same group practice within the past 3 years.

CPT uses this term to define different areas of expertise of physicians and qualified health care professionals. It does not matter whether a subspecialty board exists. For example, if 2 primary...

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