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Q: I usually transmit my MDSs the last week of each month. This month I had computer problems and was not able to transmit them-which means I will not have any transmissions for a month. What should I do?

Julia's PPS Chat, April 26, 2006

A: MDSs are required to be transmitted within 31 days of the care plan date in item VB4 for comprehensive assessments-or the RN assessment coordinator date in item R2b for noncomprehensive assessments. Page 5-3 in the revised Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI) User's Manual contains a list of each type of assessment and its required submission date.

Your situation emphasizes the reason experts strongly recommend you transmit MDSs at least weekly. As you discovered, a problem with the computer can cause your transmission to be late if you are only transmitting once per month. Vacations, an absence of the MDS coordinator, or a miscalculation of the transmission date might also cause you to submit your MDSs past your deadline.

While you cannot correct a late transmission, you can develop a policy so you will now transmit MDSs at least every week. Choose one day each week as your transmission day and stick to that decision. If you have a computer problem, at least you will then have a couple of weeks to fix the problem without running the risk of having a late transmission.

Another very important reason to transmit weekly is for timely Medicare reimbursement. Remember that you cannot bill Medicare Part A until you transmit the PPS MDS for the time period you are billing.

Be sure that you are transmitting consistently. Don't procrastinate until the last possible minute to send in your MDSs-when a computer problem might pop up. Transmit weekly so that you don't have to be stressed about not getting your MDSs sent in timely.

Until we chat again-