When services begin in one location (e.g., physician’s office, emergency department, or observation) and end with an inpatient admission on the same calendar day, the physician reports only the most appropriate initial hospital care code. It is not necessary for the physician to duplicate the information from the earlier encounter for the admission service. Instead, the physician can forward a copy of the progress note from the earlier encounter to the inpatient chart, along with the documented decision for admission and pertinent information obtained throughout the day. Auditors consider the culmination of all chart entries in a given date when reviewed. When services begin in one location but end with an admission on different calendar day, the physician separately reports each service provided on each date: 99220 on Day 1 and 99223 on Day 2.
Patients may receive different components of inpatient services within the same (uninterrupted) episode of care, all within the same building but treated as separate facility admissions (e.g., rehabilitation or long-term acute care).
It is unlikely the attending physician of record during the acute care phase will also be the attending physician during the second phase of care. Should this occur, Medicare contractors and those payers who follow Medicare guidelines permit the attending physician to separately report the acute care discharge (99238-99239) and the secondary admission (99221-99223), but only in the absence of a shared medical record (see Section 188.8.131.52D,www.cms.hhs.gov/manuals/downloads/clm104c12.pdf). If a common chart is used, the physician reports the secondary admission services as ongoing care, using SHC codes 99231-99233 instead.
Similarly, transfers occur within a single phase of care, such as transfers to and from a medical intensive care unit and a standard medical-surgical unit. Such transfers are not treated as separate admissions, and the receiving physician reports only the SHC codes because the IHC service was previously reported by the admitting physician/group. TH
Carol Pohlig is a billing and coding expert with the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia.