Resources for Hospital Observation

Are you being admitted or observed?

How do you know if you are truly admitted to a hospital?

This sounds like a dumb question, but not knowing the answer can cost you a great deal of money if you are a Medicare recipient. A person can be admitted on an inpatient basis which is what is assumed by most of us – or a person can be admitted on an observation basis. The statuses look the same on the surface in that patients in both categories may stay for many days receiving medical and nursing care and tests and treatment.

A person’s hospital admission status is determined by the admitting physician. In many cases it will be observation, rather than inpatient, to get a sense of how the patient is doing and to protect the hospital against being financially penalized by Medicare for unnecessary admissions and readmissions. For example, if persons who were originally in the hospital under observation are readmitted to the hospital, they are not counted as readmissions. In recent years the number of patients many hospitals admit and retain under observation has more than doubled.

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