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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

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Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Friday, November 04, 2011

What every senior needs to know about hospital observation care.


How do I know the status of my hospitalization stay?

Ask your doctor or other hospital officials if you are in the hospital for observation or as a regular inpatient. If you are an observation patient, ask why. Even if you are admitted as an inpatient, the hospital can switch you to observation status; in that case, the hospital is required to notify you.

You may not be eligible for post hospitalization skilled Medicare benefits.

If you do not have three consecutive days of hospitalization as an inpatient -- excluding the day of discharge -- Medicare will not cover a subsequent stay in a nursing home. For those who do qualify, Medicare pays for up to 100 days of rehabilitation or skilled nursing care.

How long can the hospital keep me for observation?

Medicare expects patients to remain in observation status for no more than 24 to 48 hours. But there are no rules limiting the time; some patients spend several days in observation.

What can I do if the hospital won't change my observation status to inpatient?

"You cannot directly appeal the hospital's determination that you are or were an observation patient," says Ellen Griffith, a Medicare spokeswoman.

If you think you should be considered an inpatient, ask your personal physician to call the hospital and request a change in status, although your doctor cannot mandate this. If that is not successful, there are other steps you can take.

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