Some hospitals may be routinely overcharging or undercharging Medicare for emergency room services, a study by the American Hospital Directory (AHD) concluded. Using hospital outpatient claims from 2002, the Louisville, Ky.-based data service found that eight hospitals classified 90% of their emergency patients as receiving the lowest level of evaluation and management. Nineteen hospitals, meanwhile, classified less than 2% of their patients at that level. Hospitals may in fact treat an abundance of lower or higher intensity cases, but "if patients are being erroneously classified to a higher range there could be a compliance problem," AHD said. Guidelines for assigning evaluation and management levels are ambiguous for hospitals, but the CMS has said it will publish more specific criteria early this year, the company said. Read the study. -- by Jeff Tieman
Study finds hospital ER coding may be faulty
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