Support Surfaces

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For any item to be covered by Medicare, it must 1) be eligible for a defined Medicare benefit category, 2) be reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of illness or injury or to improve the functioning of a malformed body member, and 3) meet all other applicable Medicare statutory and regulatory requirements. For the items addressed in this medical policy, the criteria for " reasonable and necessary" are defined by the following indications and limitations of coverage and/or medical necessity.
A group 2 support surface is covered if the patient meets:

  • Criterion 1 and 2 and 3, or
  • Criterion 4, or
  • Criterion 5 and 6.
    1. Multiple stage II pressure ulcers located on the trunk or pelvis (ICD-9 707.02 -707.05).
    2. Patient has been on a comprehensive ulcer treatment program for at least the past month which has included the use of an appropriate group 1 support surface.
    3. The ulcers have worsened or remained the same over the past month.
    4. Large or multiple stage III or IV pressure ulcer(s) on the trunk or pelvis (ICD-9 707.02 -707.05).
    5. Recent myocutaneous flap or skin graft for a pressure ulcer on the trunk or pelvis (surgery within the past 60 days) (ICD-9 707.02 -707.05).
    6. The patient has been on a group 2 or 3 support surface immediately prior to a recent discharge from a hospital or nursing facility (discharge within the past 30 days).

The comprehensive ulcer treatment described in #2 above should generally include:

  1. Education of the patient and caregiver on the prevention and/or management of pressure ulcers.
  2. Regular assessment by a nurse, physician, or other licensed healthcare practitioner (usually at least weekly for a patient with a stage III or IV ulcer).
  3. Appropriate turning and positioning.
  4. Appropriate wound care (for a stage II, III, or IV ulcer).
  5. Appropriate management of moisture/incontinence.
  6. Nutritional assessment and intervention consistent with the overall plan of care.

If the patient is on a group 2 surface, there should be a care plan established by the physician or home care nurse which includes the above elements. The support surface provided for the patient should be one in which the patient does not "bottom out" (see Appendices section).

When a group 2 surface is covered following a myocutaneous flap or skin graft, coverage generally is limited to 60 days from the date of surgery. When the stated coverage criteria for a group 2 mattress or bed are not met, a claim will be denied as not medically necessary unless there is clear documentation which justifies the medical necessity for the item in the individual case. A group 2 support surface billed without a KX modifier (see Documentation section) will usually be denied as not medically necessary.

A support surface which does not meet the characteristics specified in the Coding Guidelines section of the Pressure Reducing Support Surfaces – Group 2 Policy Article will usually be denied as not medically necessary. (See Coding Guidelines and Documentation sections concerning billing of E1399.)

Continued use of a group 2 support surface is covered until the ulcer is healed or, if healing does not continue, there is documentation in the medical record to show that: (1) other aspects of the care plan are being modified to promote healing, or (2) the use of the group 2 support surface is medically necessary for wound management.

Group 1:

Alternating pressure pad w/ pump
Dry pressure mattress
Gel pressure overlay for mattress
Air pressure mattress
Water pressure mattress
Gel pressure pad
Air pressure overlay for mattress
Water pressure overlay for mattress
Dry pressure overlay for mattress

Group 2:

Low Air Loss Therapy Bed - powered
Alternating pressure reducing mattress - powered
Adv. pressure reducing overlay - non-powered
Air overlay for mattress - powered

The staging of pressure ulcers used in the Medicare Coverage criteria is as follows:

Stage 1: Non-blanchable erythema of intact skin
Stage 2: Partial thickness skin loss involving epidermis and/or dermis
Stage 3: Full thickness skin loss involving damage or necrosis of subcutaneous tissue that may extend down to, but through, underlying facia
Stage 4: Full thickness skin loss with extensive destruction, tissue necrosis or damage to muscle, bone or supporting structures.

Patients needing pressure reducing support surfaces should have a care plan which has been established by the patient's physician or home care nurse, and is documented in the patient's medical records, and generally include the following:

  • Education of patient and caregiver on the prevention and/or management of pressure ulcers
  • Regular assessment by a nurse, physician or other licensed health care practitioner
  • Appropriate turning and and positioning
  • Appropriate wound care (for stage 2, 3, and 4 ulcer)
  • Appropriate management of moisture and incontinence
  • Nutritional assessment and intervention consistent with the overall care plan

Group 1 - Medicare Coverage Criteria

A group 1 mattress overlay or mattress is covered if the patient meets:

  • Criteria 1, or Criteria 2 or 3 and at least one of Criteria 4 - 7 of the following:
    1. Completely immobile - i.e. patient can no make changes in body position without assistance
    2. Limited mobility - i.e. patient can not independently make changes in body position significant enough to alleviate pressure
    3. Any stage pressure ulcer on the trunk or pelvis
    4. Impaired nutritional status
    5. Fecal or urinary incontinence
    6. Altered sensory perception
    7. Compromised circulatory status

(Required Documentation: Written Order Prior to Delivery, CMN)

Group 2 - Medicare Coverage Criteria

A group 2 support surface is covered if the patient meets:

  • Criteria 1 and 2 and 3, or Criteria 4, or Criteria 5 and 6 of the following:
    1. Multiple stage 2 pressure ulcers on the trunk or pelvis
    2. Patient has been on a comprehensive ulcer treatment program for at least the past month which has included the use of appropriate group 1 support surface
    3. The ulcers have worsened or remained the same over the past month
    4. Large or multiple stage 3 or 4 pressure ulcer(s) on the trunk or pelvis
    5. Recent myocutaneous flap or skin graft for a pressure ulcer on the trunk or pelvis (surgery within the past 60 days)
    6. The patient has been on a group 3 support surface immediately prior to a recent discharge from a hospital or nursing facility (discharge within the past 30 days)

(Required Documentation: Written Order Prior to Delivery, CMN)

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