(a) For purposes of payment under Medicare Part A, an individual is considered an inpatient of a hospital, including a critical access hospital, if formally admitted as an inpatient pursuant to an order for inpatient admission by a physician or other qualified practitioner in accordance with this section and §§ 482.24(c), 482.12(c), and 485.638(a)(4)(iii) of this chapter for a critical access hospital. In addition, inpatient rehabilitation facilities also must adhere to the admission requirements specified in § 412.622.
(b) The order must be furnished by a qualified and licensed practitioner who has admitting privileges at the hospital as permitted by State law, and who is knowledgeable about the patient's hospital course, medical plan of care, and current condition. The practitioner may not delegate the decision (order) to another individual who is not authorized by the State to admit patients, or has not been granted admitting privileges applicable to that patient by the hospital's medical staff.
(c) The physician order must be furnished at or before the time of the inpatient admission.
(1) Except as specified in paragraphs (d)(2) and (3) of this section, an inpatient admission is generally appropriate for payment under Medicare Part A when the admitting physician expects the patient to require hospital care that crosses two midnights.
(i) The expectation of the physician should be based on such complex medical factors as patient history and comorbidities, the severity of signs and symptoms, current medical needs, and the risk of an adverse event. The factors that lead to a particular clinical expectation must be documented in the medical record in order to be granted consideration.
(ii) If an unforeseen circumstance, such as a beneficiary's death or transfer, results in a shorter beneficiary stay than the physician's expectation of at least 2 midnights, the patient may be considered to be appropriately treated on an inpatient basis, and payment for an inpatient hospital stay may be made under Medicare Part A.
(2) An inpatient admission for a surgical procedure specified by Medicare as inpatient only under § 419.22(n) of this chapter is generally appropriate for payment under Medicare Part A regardless of the expected duration of care. Procedures no longer specified as inpatient only under § 419.22(n) of this chapter are appropriate for payment under Medicare Part A in accordance with paragraph (d)(1) or (3) of this section. Claims for services and procedures removed from the inpatient only list under § 419.22 of this chapter on or after January 1, 2020 are exempt from certain medical review activities.
(i) For those services and procedures removed between January 1 and December 31, 2020, the exemption in this paragraph (d)(2) will last for 2 years from the date of such removal.
(ii) For those services and procedures removed on or after January 1, 2021, the exemption in this paragraph (d)(2) will last until the Secretary determines that the service or procedure is more commonly performed in the outpatient setting.
(3) Where the admitting physician expects a patient to require hospital care for only a limited period of time that does not cross 2 midnights, an inpatient admission may be appropriate for payment under Medicare Part A based on the clinical judgment of the admitting physician and medical record support for that determination. The physician's decision should be based on such complex medical factors as patient history and comorbidities, the severity of signs and symptoms, current medical needs, and the risk of an adverse event. In these cases, the factors that lead to the decision to admit the patient as an inpatient must be supported by the medical record in order to be granted consideration.