tci E/M Coding Alert - 2016 Issue 10

Hospital Coding: Count Days Before Using Subsequent Observation Codes

If observation stretches into second full day without admit, use these codes. On occasion, a physician might keep a patient in observation for more than two full calendar days. When this occurs, you’ll code the “middle” day with subsequent observation codes. According to Medicare, the decision whether to discharge a patient from the hospital or admit the patient as an inpatient can be made in less than 48 hours, usually in less than 24 hours, says Todd Thomas, CPC, CCS-P, president of ERcoder, Inc. in Edmond, Ok. Rarely does an observation span more than 48 hours. When...

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