One constant in all the modifications to billing and reimbursement guidelines for evaluation and management (E/M) services provided by hospitalists is that a face-to-face patient encounter by the billing provider is required. Exceptions do occur (e.g., telehealth services, care plan oversight, home health certification) but are infrequently reported by hospitalist teams. Do not get caught misreporting the following services due to the absence of a physician presence.
Discharge Day Management
Hospital discharge day management (CPT 99238-99239) is a face-to-face E/M service between the attending physician and the patient. Document the date of the actual physician visit even if the patient is discharged from the facility on a different date.1 Documentation must substantiate this personal patient encounter.
A hospitalist can choose to record the face-to-face encounter in a handwritten progress note or make note of it in the formal discharge summary. When relying solely upon the dictated summary, physicians often fail to identify personal contact with the patient. Although an examination need only be performed “as appropriate” on the day of discharge, it is the best indicator of a face-to-face encounter. Such statements as “Upon discharge, the patient appeared well, vital signs stable, lungs clear” or “Patient seen and examined by me on discharge day” clearly illustrate this service.
It is important to note that only the attending physician of record reports the discharge day management service. Physicians or qualified non-physician practitioners (NPPs), other than the attending physician, who have been managing concurrent healthcare problems not primarily managed by the attending physician and who are not acting on behalf of the attending physician should use subsequent hospital care codes (99231-99233) for a final visit.2