When hospitalists work in academic centers, medical and surgical services are furnished, in part, by a resident within the scope of the hospitalists’ training program. A resident is “an individual who participates in an approved graduate medical education (GME) program or a physician who is not in an approved GME program but who is authorized to practice only in a hospital setting.”1 Resident services are covered by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and paid by the Fiscal Intermediary through direct GME and Indirect Medical Education (IME) payments. These services are not billed or paid using the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. The teaching physician is responsible for supervising the resident’s health-care delivery but is not paid for the resident’s work. The teaching physician is paid for their personal and medically necessary service in providing patient care. The teaching physician has the option to perform the entire service, or perform the self-determined critical or key portion(s) of the service.
Teaching physicians independently see the patient and perform all required elements to support the visit level (e.g. 99233: subsequent hospital care, per day, which requires at least two of the following three key components: a detailed interval history, a detailed examination, or high-complexity medical decision-making).2 The teaching physician writes a note independent of a resident encounter with the patient or documentation. The teaching physician note “stands alone” and does not rely on the resident’s documentation. If the resident saw the patient and documented the encounter, the teaching physician might choose to “link to” the resident note in lieu of personally documenting the entire service. The linking statement must demonstrate teaching physician involvement in the patient encounter and participation in patient management. Use of CMS-approved statements is best to meet these requirements. Statement examples include:3
- “I performed a history and physical examination of the patient and discussed his management with the resident. I reviewed the resident’s note and agree with the documented findings and plan of care.”
- “I saw and evaluated the patient. I agree with the findings and the plan of care as documented in the resident’s note.”
- “I saw and examined the patient. I agree with the resident’s note, except the heart murmur is louder, so I will obtain an echo to evaluate.”
Each of these statements meets the minimum requirements for billing. However, teaching physicians should offer more information in support of other clinical, quality, and regulatory initiatives and mandates, better exemplified in the last example. The reported visit level will be supported by the combined documentation (teaching physician and resident).