Medicare Quarterly Provider Compliance Newsletter

on Tuesday, 27 January 2015. All News Items | Quality | Medicare Coverage | Documentation

Denials due to the Physician’s Pen

 

Yes, it is true that in this age of electronic health records (EHRs) that most Physician notes are no longer written with a pen. However, in the January 2015 release of the Medicare Quarterly Compliance Newsletter, there are two Comprehensive Error Rate Testing (CERT) review findings that share the denial commonality of “the physician’s failure to document a reasonable expectation that the beneficiary would require a hospital stay that would cross 2 or more midnights.” So hand written or electronic, it is a fact that the denials were due to the Physician’s pen.

First, for those that may still be unfamiliar with this newsletter, it is a resource provided by the CMS to serve as an “educational product, to help providers understand the major findings identified by MACs, Recovery Auditors, Program Safety Contractors, Zone Program Integrity Contractors, the Comprehensive Error Rate Testing (CERT) review contractor and other governmental organizations, such as the Office of Inspector General.” If you are interested in viewing past issues, the CMS maintains a Newsletter Archive of all of the newsletters to date.

The January edition of the newsletter includes findings from the Office of Inspector General (OIG), Recovery Auditor and CERT. This article focuses on two of the CERT findings.

Surgical Procedures Related to Hemodialysis being billed as an Inpatient
Provider Types Affected: Physicians and Hospitals

 

Background

Placement of an arteriovenous fistula (AVF) is the best option for beneficiaries requiring hemodialysis for end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The procedure is typically an outpatient procedure. “Inpatient hospital admission is appropriate when the beneficiary has some other acute problem requiring inpatient care or when a serious post-operative complication arises.”

Medicare payment to a hospital for surgical procedures includes the procedure itself and all normal post-op recovery and monitoring even if the monitoring extends overnight. Also, hemodialysis and a beneficiary’s need for chronic hemodialysis “does not justify an inpatient hospital admission for a vascular access-related procedure.”

Review Finding

Most improper payments identified by the CERT were due to the hospital inappropriately billing Medicare for the surgery and post-op care as an inpatient hospital admission.

Denial due to the Physician’s Pen

The CERT asserted that the most common denial for an inpatient hospitalization spanning less than 2 midnights “is the physician’s failure to document a reasonable expectation that the beneficiary would require a hospital stay that would cross 2 or more midnights.”

What You Should Know

“Physicians do not need to include a separate attestation of the expected length of stay; rather, this information may be inferred from the physician’s standard medical documentation, such as his or her plan of care, treatment orders, and physician’s notes. Expectation of time and the determination of the underlying need for medical care at the hospital are supported by complex medical factors such as history and comorbidities, the severity of signs and symptoms, current medical needs, and the risk of an adverse event, which are expected to be documented in the physician’s assessment and plan of care.”

The 2 Midnight Rule and Elective Procedures
Provider Types Affected: Physicians Facilities and Hospitals

Background

The 2014 IPPS Final Rule (CMS-1599-F) 2-Midnight Rule provision maintains that an inpatient admission and payment under Medicare Part A is generally appropriate when the physician:

  1. “Expects the beneficiary to require a stay that crossed at least two midnights; and
  2. Admits the beneficiary to the hospital based upon that expectation.”

Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) have been performing reviews under the Probe and Educate Program that began with admissions on or after October 1, 2013 and is currently set to end on March 31, 2015.

This review focuses on the review findings “as they pertain to admissions for elective procedures.”

Exception to the 2 Midnight Rule and Unforeseen Circumstances

When the Expected Length of Stay was Less Than 2 Midnights

It would not be appropriate to admit a beneficiary as an inpatient when they present for an elective surgical procedure that is not designated as Inpatient Only by Medicare and the physician does not expect to keep the patient in the hospital beyond 2 midnights.

Contractors will deny this type of claim unless there is documentation in the record of an approved exception. Currently the only approved exception is “newly initiated mechanical ventilation (excluding anticipated intubations related to minor surgical procedures or other treatment).”

When the Expected Length of Stay was 2 or More Midnights

There are times when a physician expects a beneficiary to require a 2 midnight or longer hospitalization but due to unforeseen circumstance the stay is less than 2 midnights. CMS approved examples of unforeseen circumstances includes “unexpected death, transfer to another hospital, departure against medical advice, clinical improvement, and election of hospice care in lieu of continued treatment in the hospital.”

Denial due to the Physician’s Pen

The CERT again asserted in this review that the most common denial for an inpatient hospitalization spanning less than 2 midnights “is the physician’s failure to document a reasonable expectation that the beneficiary would require a hospital stay that would cross 2 or more midnights.”

Two examples of Medicare Part A Inpatient Denied Claims provided in this review include a vascular procedure where the documentation did not support the inpatient admission and a urologic procedure where there was no inpatient order and the documentation did not support a 2 midnight expectation.

What You Should Know

Just as in the first CERT review findings, this article asserts that what you should know is that “Physicians do not need to include a separate attestation of the expected length of stay; rather, this information may be inferred from the physician’s standard medical documentation, such as his or her plan of care, treatment orders, and physician’s notes. Expectation of time and the determination of the underlying need for medical care at the hospital are supported by complex medical factors such as history and comorbidities, the severity of signs and symptoms, current medical needs, and the risk of an adverse event, which are expected to be documented in the physician’s assessment and plan of care.”

I encourage you to take the time to read this entire newsletter as it provides the issues, what you should know as well as valuable links to resources to find more information about each review type.

Article by Beth Cobb

Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS, is the Manager of Clinical Services at Medical Management Plus, Inc. Beth has over twenty-three years of experience in healthcare including eleven years in Case Management at a large multi-facility health system. In her current position, Beth monitors, interprets and communicates current and upcoming Case Management / Clinical Documentation issues as they relate to specific entities concerning Medicare. You may contact Beth at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This material was compiled to share information. MMP, Inc. is not offering legal advice. Every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information is accurate and useful.

 

green-iconWe are an environmentally conscious company, dedicated to living “green” both at work and as individuals.

Location

home-icon
1900 Twentieth Avenue South
Suite 220
Birmingham, AL 35209

Connect

phone
205-941-1105
phone
800-592-9639
email
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 mhms