Skip to main content

CPT 2024 Code Set Includes Spanish Language Descriptors

Analysis  |  By Jasmyne Ray  
   September 21, 2023

The addition to the code set will help remove language barriers to Spanish-speaking patients.

The American Medical Association has released its Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code set for 2024, now offering Spanish language descriptors.

The new code set, which serves as the nation's leading data-sharing terminology, is a welcome effort to address language barriers to Spanish-speaking patients, with the descriptors for over 11,000 medical procedures and services now available in their language.

"Navigating medical care and paperwork can be especially challenging for Latinx patients who do not speak English as a second language," Lori Prestesater, AMA senior vice president of health solutions, said in a statement.

"Providing approximately 41 million Spanish-speaking individuals in the United States with an easy-to-understand description of medical procedures and services can help build a more inclusive healthcare environment, where language is no longer a barrier and patients can actively engage in their own care."

HealthLeaders has previously reported on the negative effect language barriers can have on patients’ care, particularly in the home health setting.

For Alison Squires, PhD, RN, FAAN, being able to speak Spanish helped her as nurse in that she was better able to determine the treatment or care the patient needed. While interpreters are commonly used to facilitate communication between foreign patients and clinicians, she explained that the information patients share with them can get curtailed or isn't as detailed for the sake of translation and time constraints.

A standardized resource like the code set explaining procedures in a way that's easy to understand, as well as in Spanish, will benefit facilities and practices across the board, according to Squires.

"This would standardize the language used across all facilities, which is a welcome thing," she told HealthLeaders. "The main issue will be whether or not facilities actually use them."

Squires also notes the importance of involving patients in the review process for the code set, adding a failure to do so would be "problematic."

“This would standardize the language used across all facilities, which is a welcome thing.”

Jasmyne Ray is the contributing editor for revenue cycle at HealthLeaders. 

Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.