One of the worst parts of my job over the years has been to tell patients I was going to bring them into the hospital as an observation status because they did not have any criteria for full inpatient status. There is a huge difference in how CMS pays for hospital care (excluding critical access hospitals) between inpatient versus observation.
Observation is considered outpatient. Medicare will pay for observation hospital services for up to 48 hours to allow physicians a chance to observe the patient and determine if they need to have an inpatient hospital admission. Observation was never intended to be used as a holding pit to help social workers arrange for a nursing home transfer during normal business working hours because it can’t be arranged, on either end, at 10 pm on a Friday night.
What used to be a moral family obligation to care for loved ones too weak to care for themselves has now been relinquished to the role of hospitals and hospitalists. And we all pay for it. Families have abandoned their loved ones for good. It’s really quite sad. Bringing patients into the hospital for the purpose of arranging a nursing home transfer is, in my opinion, a form of Medicare fraud, since these patients have no intention of being fully admitted.
But it’s paid for and will always be paid for, except when Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*