With the continued pressure to avoid the admission of patients to hospital care, the American Medical Association (AMA) Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Editorial Panel created observation status codes. These codes allow physicians to observe a patient in an observation area of the hospital. It is not necessary for the patient under observation to be located in a physically separate observation area. Observation status codes may, for example, be used for the patient with asthma who has not fully recovered but is not quite sick enough to be in the hospital, or for the dehydrated patient receiving a bolus of intravenous fluids. Typical times have not yet been established for these codes. There are 3 codes for initial observation care (99218–99220) and 1 for observation discharge (99217) occurring on a day after the admission. In addition, there are codes for admission and discharge observation (or inpatient) services provided on the same...

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