99253 CPT Code, cpt 99253, cpt code 99253, 99253 cpt code, 99253

99253 CPT Code (2022) | Description, Guidelines, Reimbursement, Modifiers & Example

99253 CPT code is used for billing inpatient consultations. This service is provided to a hospital inpatient by a physician whose opinion or another physician or other appropriate source requests advice regarding evaluating and managing a specific problem. This article will help you with proper coding, billing guidelines, and reimbursement for the 99253 CPT code.

Be aware that CPT code 99253 has been revised on the 1st of January, 2023. This article is about the previous version of the code description.

Summary Of The 99253 CPT Code

There are five levels under inpatient consultation services for a new or established patient category represented by 99251-99255. 

The following is the least you must do to qualify for a hospital consult 99253 CPT code.

It would be best if you had history, physical, and decision-making to qualify in their levels, unlike hospital follow-up visits requiring only 2 out of 3 areas. Remember you will need three out of three for consults:

History (You need all three of these elements)

Four components of the History of present Illness (location, duration, character, onset, associated signs, symptoms, etc. OR the status of a minimum of three chronic medical conditions.

Two reviews of systems. The area from Past Medical, Medications, Allergies, Family, Social history

A comprehensive exam of the affected body area and other symptomatic or related organ systems OR 6 regions (2 bullets each) OR 2+ spaces (12 bullets total). Documenting three vitals is considered a bullet.

Decision Making:

  • Diagnosis: 2 points
  • Data: 2 points
  • Risk: Low

For the Decision-making component, you need the highest two out of three from diagnosis, data, and risk. 

An important tip about CPT 99253:

According to CPT guidelines, only one inpatient consultation code from 99251-99255 must be reported by a consultant per admission. Evaluation and Management services after the initial consultation during a single admission should be reported using non-consultation E&M codes. The appropriate follow-up codes for the hospital setting are CPT codes 99231-99233, and the proper follow-up codes for the nursing facility are CPT codes 99307-99310.

cpt code 99253

Description Of The 99253 CPT Code

New or established patient Inpatient consultation for a new or established patient requires these three key elements: An appropriate detailed history, A detailed examination, and medical decision-making of low complexity. 

The official description of CPT 99253 is: Inpatient consultation for a new or established patient, which requires these 3 key components:

  • A detailed history;
  • A detailed examination; and
  • Medical decision making of low complexity.

Counseling and/or coordination of care with other physicians, other qualified health care professionals, or agencies are provided consistent with the nature of the problem(s) and the patient’s and/or family’s needs.

Usually, the presenting problem(s) are of moderate severity. Typically, 55 minutes are spent at the bedside and on the patient’s hospital floor or unit.”

Coordination of care and Counseling with other providers or agencies are provided consistent with the nature of the problem and the patient’s or his family’s demand. Usually, the presenting problems are of moderate intensity or severity. Typically, 55 minutes are spent at the patient’s hospital unit or bedside.

99253 CPT code is the third-highest level of care for hospital consults.

Inpatient consultation service codes describe encounters with patients admitted to the hospital, residing in nursing facilities, or patients in a partial hospital setting where another qualified clinician’s advice or opinion regarding diagnosis and treatment or determination to accept the transfer of care of a patient are rendered at the request of the primary treating provider. 

The consultation request must be documented in the patient’s medical record and a confirmed report of the consultation findings to the primary treating physician. The physician consultant can initiate diagnostic or therapeutic services during a consultation or follow-up visit at the same encounter.

Other procedures or services performed with the consultation may be reported separately. Only one inpatient consultation services code should be written per admission, and CPT codes do not differentiate between new or established patients. Services are reported based on meeting all three key components (history, exam, and medical decision-making) within each level of service. 

As represented by 99251, the most basic service describes a problem-focused history and exam with straightforward medical decision-making for a minor or self-limiting complaint encompassing approximately 20 minutes at the patient’s bedside or on the unit. 

The mid-level services describe problems involving an expanded problem-focused history and exam or a detailed history and exam represented by 99252 and 99253 CPT codes, respectively.

Medical decision-making for 99252 is the same (straightforward) as for a level one visit (99251) and is designated as low complexity for the level three service (99253). At these service levels, the encounter can involve time at the patient’s bedside or on the unit of 40 (99252) to 55 (CPT code 99253) minutes involving minimal to low severity concerns.

These codes are used to report consultations in the inpatient setting. All three key elements (history, exam, and medical decision-making) should equal or exceed the level of E&M service selected. May also use the time to determine the appropriate level of service when counseling and coordination of care are documented as at least half of the time spent face-to-face with the patient.

Medicare and some payers do not cover consultation code 99253. Report new or established inpatient E/M codes for consultation services. Consultation services should not be reported when the care and management of a problem or condition are assumed before the patient’s initial examination. Always write the appropriate initial or subsequent evaluation and management service in these situations.

Do not report inpatient and outpatient consultation codes when both are related to the same inpatient admission.

The provider may report telemedicine services by appending modifier 95 to these procedure codes and using the appropriate place of service. Services at the origination site are registered with HCPCS Level II code Q3014.


If coding is based on time, 55 minutes must be spent face-to-face with the patient. 

In addition, the appropriate documentation must be included.

The reimbursement for this CPT code 99253 is approximately $97.20.

When a physician performs the E&M at the request of the patient’s attending physician, the CMS will pay a consultation fee if:

  • Use of a consultation code criteria met.
  • The consultation is followed by treatment.
  • A surgeon requests that another physician participates in postoperative care (provided that the physician did not perform a pre-operative consultation).

Billing Guidelines

Cost and Relative value units of the facility services:

The Cost and total RVUs of CPT 99253 are $114.55 and 3.31000, respectively for National and Global Facility and Non-Facility Services.

Facility codes reflect the volume and ferocity of the facility’s resources to provide care.

The level of E&M service billed must be based on the treatment of a low level of complexity having three key components:

  • An expanded problem-focused history.
  • An expanded problem-focused examination.
  • Straightforward medical decision making performed concerning the medical care required by the reported symptoms and resulting in the patient’s diagnosis.

Billing Examples

The 99253 CPT code should be billed in the billing cases below.

Example 1

Initial hospital consultation for a 50-year-old female with incapacitating knee pain due to generalized rheumatoid arthritis. (Orthopeadic Surgery)

Example 2

Initial hospital consultation for a 60-year-old male with avascular necrosis of the left femoral heel with increasing pain. (Orthopaedic Surgery)

Example 3

Initial hospital consultation for a 45-year-old female with compound mandibular fracture and concurrent head, abdominal, and/or orthopaedic injuries. (Oral & Maxillofacial)

Example 4

Initial hospital consultation for a 22-year-old female paraplegic to evaluate wrist and hand pain. (Orthopaedic Surgery)

Example 5

Initial hospital consultation for a 40-year-old male with a 10-day history of incapacitating unilateral sciatica, unable to walk now, not improved by bed rest. (Neurosurgery)

Example 6

Initial hospital consultation, requested by a pediatrician, for treatment recommendations for a patient admitted with the persistent inability to walk following soft tissue injury to the ankle. (Physiatry)

Example 7

Initial hospital consultation for a 27-year-old previously healthy male who vomited during IV sedation and may have aspirated gastric contents. (Anesthesiology)

Example 8

Initial hospital consultation for a 33-year-old female, post-abdominal surgery, who has a fever. (Internal Medicine)

Example 9

Initial inpatient consultation for a 57-year-old male, post lower endoscopy, to evaluate abdominal pain and fever. (General Surgery)

Example 10

Initial inpatient consultation for rehabilitation of a 73-year-old female one week after the management of a hip fracture. (Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation)

Example 11

Initial inpatient consultation for diagnosis/management of fever following abdominal surgery. (Internal Medicine)

Example 12

Initial inpatient consultation for a 35-year-old female with a fever and pulmonary infiltrate following cesarean section. (Pulmonary Medicine)

Example 13

Initial inpatient consultation for a 42-year-old non-diabetic patient, postoperative cholecystectomy, now with an acute urinary tract infection. (Nephrology)

Example 14

Initial inpatient consultation for a 53-year-old female with moderate uncomplicated pancreatitis. (Gastroenterology)

Example 15

Initial inpatient consultation for a 45-year-old patient with chronic neck pain with radicular pain in the left arm. (Orthopaedic Surgery)

Example 16

Initial inpatient consultation for an 8-year-old patient with new onset of seizures with a normal examination and previous history. (Neurology)

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