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Critical Care Guidelines - CPT 99291 and 99292

Critical care is the direct delivery by a physician(s) or other qualified health care professional of medical care for a critically ill or critically injured patient.

A critical illness or injury acutely impairs one or more vital organ systems such that there is a high probability of imminent or life-threatening deterioration in the patient's condition. 

Critical care services include the treatment of vital organ failure or prevention of further life-threatening conditions. 

Delivering medical care in a moment of crisis and in time of emergency is not the only requirement for providing Critical Care services.

Examples of vital organ system failure include, but are not limited to,

  • Central nervous system failure, 
  • Circulatory failure, 
  • Shock, 
  • Renal, hepatic, metabolic, and/or respiratory failure. 

Critical care may be provided on multiple days, even if no changes are made in the treatment rendered to the patient, provided that the patient's condition continues to require the level of attention mentioned above.

Key Points

The Critical Care Services for a patient who is not critically ill but happens to be in a critical care unit are reported using other appropriate E/M codes.

Critical care and other E/M services may be reported to the same patient on the same date by the same individual.

The critical care code is applicable for a critical care service provided for the first 30 – 74 minutes. Any Critical Care service provided for less than 30 minutes should be billed with the appropriate level of E/M code.

Usually, a Critical Care service is provided to a patient in a "Critical Care Area" such as,
  • Coronary Care Unit (CCU), 
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU), 
  • Respiratory Care Unit, or 
  • Emergency Room.

Included Services

The mentioned below list of services are included when performed during the "Critical Care service"
  • Interpretation of cardiac output measurements - 93561, 93562
  • Chest X rays -71045, 71046
  • Pulse oximetry - 94760, 94761, 94762[blood gases, and collection and interpretation of physiologic data] (eg, ECGs, blood pressures, hematologic data);
  • Gastric intubation - 43752, 43753
  • Temporary transcutaneous pacing - 92953 
  • Ventilatory management - 94002-94004, 94660, 94662 
  • Vascular access procedures - 36000, 36410, 36415, 36591, 36600
Any services performed that are not included in this listing should be reported separately. Facilities may report the above services separately.


Inpatient critical care services provided to neonates (28 days of age or younger) are reported with the neonatal critical care codes 99468 and 99469. 

Inpatient critical care services provided to infants 29 days through 71 months of age are reported with pediatric critical care codes 99471-99476

To report critical care services provided in the outpatient setting (eg, emergency department or office), for neonates and pediatric patients up through 71 months of age, see the critical care codes 99291, 99292

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