Are You Being “Observed?”

If you are a Caregiver for a Senior Heading to the Hospital, Be Sure They are “Admitted”

Have you or your elderly loved one ever been in the hospital and find out as you are leaving that you were never really “in” the hospital?  It can happen, and it can have repercussions, especially if you need to go to rehab/skilled care following the hospitalization.  If one’s admission status is classified as “Under Observation,” further care in a skilled nursing facility or rehab, which is often the next step for an elderly individual following a fall and a hip repair or replacement, would not be covered under the Medicare skilled nursing benefit.  Instead, it would be the responsibility of the elder or family to pay out of pocket.  NPR recently featured a story on observation status.

As a Geriatric Care Manager, I have seen families find out too late that their loved one was only “Under Observation,” even while receiving all the regular care provided in a hospital – x-rays, MRIs, medications, orthopedic care, etc.  In one case, the family realized as their mother was leaving the hospital, and the only way to have her moved to a rehab facility was to pay $30,000 for the stay.  The issue has recently come to a head with the Center for Medicare Advocacy taking legal action on behalf of all the people who have faced this issue.


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