Discharge day management codes reflect the time accumulated on a calendar date, ending when the patient physically leaves the hospital. Services performed in a location other than the patient’s unit/floor (e.g., dictating the discharge summary from the outpatient office), do not count toward the cumulative time. Additionally, discharge-related services performed by residents, students or ancillary staff (i.e., registered nurses), such as reviewing instructions with the patient, do not count toward the discharge service time.
To support the discharge day management claim, documentation should reference the discharge status and other clinically relevant information. Time is not required when documenting 99238 because this service code constitutes any amount of time up to and including 30 minutes. When reporting 99239, documentation must include the physician’s cumulative service time (more than 30 minutes).
Medicare currently initiates a prepayment review (i.e., request for documentation to review the service prior to any payment consideration) for claims involving 99239. Failure to respond to the prepayment request or failure to include the time component in the documentation often results in claim denial. Payment can be recovered only through the appeal process or claim correction, when applicable.
Rules For Surgery
Surgeons are prohibited from separately reporting inpatient postoperative services related to the surgery, including discharge day management (99238-99239). Additionally, when the surgeon admits a patient to the hospital and discharge services are performed postoperatively by the hospitalist, discharge day management is included in the surgical package.
The reasons are two-fold: If the surgeon transfers the remaining inpatient care to the hospitalist, these discharge services are considered part of the global surgical package.
If no transfer occurs (as the surgeon is typically responsible and paid for all care up to 90 days following surgery), only the admitting physician/group (i.e., the surgeon) may report discharge day management codes 99238-99239.
In the latter scenario, the hospitalist reports subsequent hospital care (99231-99233) for all medically necessary services involving the patient’s medical management, even if provided on the day of discharge.
Pronouncement of Death
One of the most underreported services involves pronouncement of death. A physician who performs this service may qualify to report discharge day management code 99238-99239. To pronounce death, the physician must examine the patient, thus satisfying the face-to-face visit requirement.
Additionally, the physician may have to coordinate the necessary services, speak with family members or other healthcare providers, and fill out the necessary documentation.
If performed on the patient’s unit/floor, these services count toward the cumulative discharge service time. Documentation must include the time (if reporting 99239) as well as the patient’s discharge status and clinically relevant information. Completion of the death certificate alone is not sufficient for billing. TH
Carol Pohlig is a billing and coding expert with the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia. She is also on the faculty of SHM’s inpatient coding course.