If you go to the ER and stay in the hospital, don’t assume you have been admitted

Not so! You can be in a hospital bed for several days without actually being admitted with personal financial consequences.

Recently a New York Times article “ noted: “ But it turns out that even though you are receiving treatment in a hospital bed, you may simply be under observation, and technically are still an outpatient. That can cost you money if you are covered under Medicare, the federal health plan for older Americans.”

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Not your typical Emergency Room visit

Philip Abrams didn’t want to go to the Emergency Department.

He’d never felt this way before. What at first seemed like a simple headache just kept getting worse. Though he couldn’t see his regular doctor, the covering doctor suspected sinusitis, and started an antibiotic. When things progressed, he was referred to an ENT specialist, who noted an emerging rash on his nose and forehead, and suspected shingles. He got an anti-viral medication and pain meds, but couldn’t sleep because of the increasing pain.

When his eye started to get involved, his wife persuaded him to go to Mount Sinai’s new geriatric emergency department. “It was the last thing I felt like doing. I felt horrible, I hadn’t eaten anything in the past couple of days, and I didn’t want to move…”

But soon after his arrival, things started looking up. “I wasn’t there more than a few minutes before I was whisked out of that space and ushered to another area where my blood pressure was taken… I was promptly seen, and the physician’s assistant gathered info about me, asked if I had eaten, and promptly brought me a turkey sandwich and drink.”

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