Count Only Included Services when Reporting Time
When calculating time spent performing a procedure or service, include only those items specifically detailed in the code descriptor. For example, when reporting critical care services (e.g., 99291-99292), you may include the time spent interpreting cardiac output measurements or chest X-rays, performing ventilatory management or vascular access, and other services enumerated within CPT® as inclusive of critical care. You may not count toward critical care the time spent performing other, separately reportable services (e.g., endotracheal intubation for airway support, 31500).
Carefully review CPT® guidelines and code descriptors to determine which activities you may count toward the time of a particular service. Each code category or descriptor may include different components within a time-based code. For instance, critical care includes floor/unit time, in addition to time spent at a patient’s bedside. By contrast, when calculating time for prolonged services 99354-99357, you may count only face-to-face time. Many time-based services include only that time spent face to face with the patient. Count time away from the patient only if the code descriptor or other CPT® guidelines specifically allow you to do so.
Bonus tip: As a best practice, when providing time-based services, you should document start and stop times, as well as the total time of service.
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