Wiki Documentation of Time in Hospital Discharge code 99239


Albertville, MN
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The Hospitalists I code for document their time spent for discharge whether it be for under 30 minutes or more than 30 minutes. My question is if the physician documents "33 minutes spent on discharge," technically this would be 99239; however, is it ethical to code 99239 when you have 31-39 minutes documented? What would an auditor do with this scenario?
A. Willson, CPC, CEMC
Remember that discharge services are not just face to face with the patient but it also includes discharge instructions to the discharge nurse and the patient's family, final preparation of the patient's medical records and/or orders, review of the inpatient admission and any other services provided for that patient that day. The only reqirement is that the time be documented.
Otherwise, even if it is only 31 minutes it is still the 99239 and it is legal, moral and ethical to bill correctly and exactly. ;) The only thing that would be un-ethical would be if the physician intentionally ran into the 99239 by stalling for time. This is usually not the case.