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Comprehensive Assessment

Each patient must receive, and an HHA must provide, a patient-specific, comprehensive assessment. For Medicare beneficiaries, the HHA must verify the patient's eligibility for the Medicare home health benefit including homebound status, both at the time of the initial assessment visit and at the time of the comprehensive assessment.

Initial Assessment Visit

A registered nurse must conduct an initial assessment visit to determine the immediate care and support needs of the patient; and, for Medicare patients, to determine eligibility for the Medicare home health benefit, including homebound status. The initial assessment visit must be held either within 48 hours of referral, or within 48 hours of the patient's return home, or on the physician-ordered start of care date.

When rehabilitation therapy service (speech language pathology, physical therapy, or occupational therapy) is the only service ordered by the physician who is responsible for the home health plan of care, and if the need for that service establishes program eligibility, the initial assessment visit may be made by the appropriate rehabilitation skilled professional.

For each therapy discipline for which services are provided, a qualified therapist (instead of an assistant) must assess the patient’s function using a method which objectively measures activities of daily living such as, but not limited to:

    • Eating,
    • Swallowing,
    • Bathing,
    • Dressing,
    • Toileting,
    • Walking,
    • Climbing stairs,
    • Using assistive devices, and
    • Mental and cognitive factors.

The measurement results must be documented in the clinical record.

Where more than one discipline of therapy is being provided, a qualified therapist from each of the disciplines must functionally assess the patient. The therapist must document the measurement results which correspond to the therapist’s discipline and care plan goals in the clinical record.

Completion of the Comprehensive Assessment

The comprehensive assessment must be completed in a timely manner, consistent with the patient's immediate needs, but no later than five (5) calendar days after the start of care.

A registered nurse must complete the comprehensive assessment and for Medicare patients, determine eligibility for the Medicare home health benefit, including homebound status.

When physical therapy, speech-language pathology, or occupational therapy is the only service ordered by the physician, a physical therapist, speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist may complete the comprehensive assessment, and for Medicare patients, determine eligibility for the Medicare home health benefit, including homebound status. The occupational therapist may complete the comprehensive assessment if the need for occupational therapy establishes program eligibility.

Content of the Comprehensive Assessment

The comprehensive assessment must accurately reflect the patient's status, and must include, at a minimum, the following information:

    • The patient's current health, psychosocial, functional, and cognitive status;
    • The patient's strengths, goals, and care preferences, including information that may be used to demonstrate the patient's progress toward achievement of the goals identified by the patient and the measurable outcomes identified by the HHA;
    • The patient's continuing need for home care;
    • The patient's medical, nursing, rehabilitative, social, and discharge planning needs;
    • A review of all medications the patient is currently using in order to identify any potential adverse effects and drug reactions, including ineffective drug therapy, significant side effects, significant drug interactions, duplicate drug therapy, and noncompliance with drug therapy.
    • The patient's primary caregiver(s), if any, and other available supports, including their:
      • Willingness and ability to provide care, and
      • Availability and schedules;
    • The patient's representative (if any);  
    • Incorporation of the current version of the Outcome and Assessment Information Set (OASIS) items, using the language and groupings of the OASIS items, as specified by the Secretary. The OASIS data items determined by the Secretary must include: clinical record items, demographics and patient history, living arrangements, supportive assistance, sensory status, integumentary status, respiratory status, elimination status, neuro/emotional/behavioral status, activities of daily living, medications, equipment management, emergent care, and data items collected at inpatient facility admission or discharge only.

Therapy Reassessment

At least once every thirty (30) days, for each therapy discipline for which services are provided, a qualified therapist (instead of an assistant) must provide the ordered therapy service, functionally reassess the patient, and compare the resultant measurement to prior assessment measurements. The therapist must document in the clinical record the measurement results along with the therapist’s determination of the effectiveness of therapy, or lack thereof.

For multi-discipline therapy cases, a qualified therapist from each of the disciplines must functionally reassess the patient. The therapist must document the measurement results which correspond to the therapist’s discipline and care plan goals in the clinical record.

The thirty (30) day clock begins with the first therapy service (of that discipline) and the clock resets with each therapist’s visit/assessment/measurement/documentation (of that discipline).

Update of the Comprehensive Assessment

The comprehensive assessment must be updated and revised (including the administration of the OASIS) as frequently as the patient's condition warrants due to a major decline or improvement in the patient's health status, but not less frequently than—

    • The last 5 days of every 60 days beginning with the start-of-care date, unless there is a—
      • Beneficiary elected transfer;
      • Significant change in condition; or
      • Discharge and return to the same HHA during the 60-day episode.
    • Within 48 hours of the patient's return to the home from a hospital admission of 24 hours or more for any reason other than diagnostic tests, or on physician-ordered resumption date;
    • At discharge.

References

42 CFR §484.55

Medicare Benefit Policy Manual Ch. 7 § 40.2

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